EPHRATA — The stakes were high for the Othello Huskies, needing a win and help to slug their way into the CWAC District tournament Tuesday night in the Jungle.
But they ran into a rockin’ ‘n’ rollin’ Ephrata team, riding high on Senior Night and a one-two punch that kept the Huskies (3-17, 3-15 CWAC) at bay all night.
The No. 5 Tigers eliminated the Huskies 70-53.
Ephrata junior Lakota Lange knocked down four of his five 3-point field goals in the first half en route to 17 points, loosening things up for the Tiger bigs in the paint. Hunter James, a 6-foot-4 senior, had a Senior Night to remember with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Josh Benthem, a 6-4 senior, finished with 10 rebounds and nine points.
“That was the plan, to run the floor and push the ball right at them,” Benthem said. “Getting the perimeter game going early loosened things up inside and we were pretty much in control.”
Lange drained his third 3-point shot of the game by the 3:09 mark in the first quarter and the Huskies had no choice but to abandon the zone to try and defend the perimeter. Once that happened, the No. 5 Tigers (11-9, 10-8 CWAC) who host No. 8 East Valley (5-14, 4-13) on Saturday, broke it wide open with a running game with all four bigs on the loose in the paint. Boe Hesse, a 6-5 junior, and 6-2 Kyle Hendrick came off the bench to contribute as the Tigers pulled away to a 40-22 halftime lead and 48-25 early in the third period. Hendrick had nine points and seven rebounds and Hesse had six points and six rebounds for the Tigers, who out-rebounded the Huskies 40-25.
“Lakota is a good shooter and we’ve been waiting for that,” Ephrata coach Brandon Evenson said. “He knocked down some big shots and getting a win on Senior Night is important.
“Our bigs were so good tonight, but our guards did a great job getting them the ball, Our bigs are all athletic, so we like to run the floor and get them the ball quickly.”
Othello had two back-to-back turnovers to open the second half and the Tigers jumped it up to 44-28 a minute into the third quarter and that was pretty much it for a Huskies team that needed to win and get some help from East Valley.
“We tried to work from the inside out, driving the lane then kicking it out, but we couldn’t find our shot in the first half,” Othello senior Jon Garza said. “Every year of playing ball is a good year, regardless of where you are in the standings because I love the game.
“Wearing Huskies red and black means everything to me. I’ve wanted to be here since I was a little kid and I am so proud to represent Othello in everything I do.”
Garza led the Huskies with 17 points and Hilario Murillo added 11.
The Tigers will host No. 8 East Valley on Saturday and the Huskies wrapped up their season.
Othello 5 14 18 13 - 53
Ephrata 15 22 15 15 - 70
Othello - Patrick Azevedo 4, Jaden Flores 3, Rodrigo Garza 3, Kai Quigley 6, Jonathan Garza 17, Frank Lopez 5, Jacob Suarez 2, Hilario Murillo 11, Carlos Martinez 2. Totals: 21 3-5 53
Ephrata - Lakota Lange 17, Seth Elliott 5, Carter Cleveringa 4, Trent Kleyn 4, Hunter James 19, Kyle Hendrick 9, Josh Benthem 6, Boe Hesse 6. Totals: 28 9-13 70