YAKIMA — Tyler Linhardt again played a starring role, but it was the supporting cast that made the difference as King’s High School beat top-seeded Seattle Academy in overtime Friday 68-66 to advance to the championship game of the Class 1A state boys basketball tournament.
Linhardt’s floater in the lane with three seconds left was the game-winner, lifting the upstart Knights (18-10) — seeded 14th — into the championship game against No. 6 Lynden-Christian (22-5) Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
The true heroes were reserves Jaron Hansen and Will Pohland, who scored 13 points each to keep King’s in position for the victory.
“Jaron and Will stepping up hitting shots is crazy, and that’s what we needed to win,” said Linhardt, who struggled with his shot for most of the game but finished with 22 points.
Pohland went 3 for 3 from three-point range in the second half and overtime and Hansen had all 13 of his points after intermission. They aren’t shy about stepping up when needed.
“This team has lot of weapons and our coach knows that, so we’ve just got to be ready,” Pohland said.
Coach Rick Skeen knew he would need all of those weapons against the Cardinals (24-2).
“All our kids played big and played tough,” he said. “I knew to beat a team like this we were going to have to have four double-figure scorers.”
Jordan Hansen, Jaron’s brother, made it a foursome with 10 points.
Pohland also played tough defense for much of the game on Seattle Academy’s high-scoring Leo DeBruhl, limiting him to just eight points in the first half (five of those coming at the free-throw line).
DeBruhl, a 6-foot-2 junior, eventually caught fire and sent the game into overtime by swishing a long three-pointer at the buzzer, ultimately finishing with a game-high 27 points.
That opportunity came after Linhardt had missed two free throws with 6.9 seconds left in regulation that could have sealed a victory. Linhardt was determined to make up for it.
“After I missed those free throws, I knew I couldn’t let them win,” he said. “I had to do whatever I had to do.”
King’s played a super-competitive schedule this season — hence the 10 losses — and Pohland says it’s paying off now.
“That’s really battle-tested us and tested our toughness,” he said.
The Cardinals had won 17 in a row after an 85-72 loss to Zillah — last year’s state champion — in late December, a stretch that included a 76-57 win over King’s in their bi-district championship game two weeks ago. They were anxious to improve on last year’s 0-2 showing, and had clinched a trophy with Thursday’s quarterfinal victory. They play No. 9 La Salle (21-6) for third and sixth places Saturday at 11:15 a.m. and have never placed higher than fifth.
Joe Cookson had another big game with 21 points and 15 rebounds, but fouled out with 2:03 left in overtime. Coach Shaun Burl was pleased with his team’s efforts against King’s, despite the loss.
“It was a great game, and you coach for those kind of games, you play for those kind of games,” he said. “I have no bad feelings about the game. Obviously you want to win, but in this situation, this setting, losing an overtime game in the semifinals at state, you’re not going to walk out of here extremely disappointed.”
DeBruhl’s face told a different story.
“This is a feeling that’s going to stick with us for sure,” he said.
- The No. 6 King’s girls (19-9) were eliminated a win short of the trophy round by No. 7 Annie Wright 61-58 after high-scoring Julianna Walker hit a shot beyond half-court with 0.4 seconds remaining for the win. She had 37 points.
- In the Class 2A boys tournament, No. 4 Lindbergh fell in semifinals to No. 7 Clarkston 42-38. The Eagles will play No. 1 Lynden in the 3rd/5th-place game Saturday.