ROYAL CITY — Wahluke boys basketball came back to defeat Royal on the road, taking the lead with under a minute to play as the Warriors picked up the 52-51 win in Royal City.
The Knights jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter, taking an eight-point advantage into the second at 18-10. Carter Dorsing led the Knights with 10 points in the quarter, while Tanu Buck led Wahluke with eight of the team’s 10.
Royal was able to maintain their margin through the second quarter, as the Knights took advantage of missed opportunities by the Warriors to head into the locker room with a 31-22 lead. Dorsing finished with 13 points in the first half for Royal, while Buck finished with 12.
In the third quarter, the Wahluke defense that had been pestering the Knights all game finally began to take advantage of their opponent’s mishaps. Buck continued to cook for the Warriors while Logan Marlow chipped in seven points as Wahluke was able to even the game at 38-38 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Warriors continued to cause problems with their defense in the fourth as the Royal offense continued to struggle to hit shots that had fallen in the first half. The Knights held onto a narrow lead for most of the final quarter before the Warriors hit a big three to trim the lead to 51-50.
A steal by Buck led to the Wahluke guard being fouled on the breakaway. After hitting both free throws to give the Warriors the one-point lead, the Knights inbounded the ball with just over 17 seconds to play looking for a final shot.
Royal got a few looks at the basket, but were unable to get anything to fall as the Warriors held on to pick up the road win.
Buck finished with 24 points for Wahluke in the win. Logan Marlow finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. Alex Contreras had 11 for the Warriors, eight in the fourth quarter.
For Royal, Dorsing finished with 21 points, while Caleb Christensen finished with 13.
Wahluke head coach Clayton Buck said after the game that his team showed a lot of heart down the stretch.
“Our defense is probably our number one offense,” Clayton Buck said. “Definitely, the boys stepped it up in that second half. Our rebounding was a little off in the first half and our transitions into zone were a little slow, but in that fourth quarter, we were a lot sharper.”
Clayton Buck said he’s the type of coach that likes to take “1,000 shots a game,” but when the team’s outside shots weren’t falling in the first half, the Wahluke coach said he told his team to take it inside.
“It’s kind of basic basketball: if you can’t make the outside shot, let’s step closer and make the close ones then step back and make the further one,” he said.
Royal head coach Ray Valle said he thought his team’s shot selection was good in the game, something he’s been working on frequently with his team over the first months of the season.
“Their shot selection early on was one of the things we weren’t very good at, and we’ve been stressing that this year,” Valle said. “And, even tonight, I feel like we’re taking great looks, that’s progress. That’s all we can ask for right now.”
Getting much of his team late as a result of the football postseason, Valle said he feels like his players are starting to get their legs under them with still a lot of basketball left to play.
“I told them afterwards, we can go one of two ways from here, when you come to a ‘Y’ in the road,” Valle said. “You guys kind of decide, we all decide which way we go. I know they’re good kids and they’ll choose the right way.”