State basketball: Nine Clark County teams advance to domes

Union, Skyview, La Center boys all win at Battle Ground High School

BATTLE GROUND — It was a Clark County sweep in Clark County.

Union, Skyview, and La Center all won their state regional boys basketball games Saturday at Battle Ground High School, the final high school games of the season that will be played in the region.

Next up is the ultimate destinations for Class 4A, 3A, 2A, and 1A boys and girls basketball: The Tacoma Dome and the Yakima Valley SunDome.

Mason Hill of Union drives to the basket for two of his team-high 29 points Saturday. He made seven 3-pointers in Union’s win over Gonzaga Prep. Photo by WazMixHoops

Union’s victory Saturday was a seeding game. Skyview and La Center needed those victories to continue their seasons.

There were 10 other games featuring Clark County teams over the weekend. A few were for seeding, but most were elimination games. The local teams went 4-6 in those outings.

The Battle Ground boys, the Camas girls, and the Hudson’s Bay girls all won to make it to Tacoma.

On Friday, the Union girls became the first team from the county to advance directly to the state quarterfinals, beating Todd Beamer. 

The Union boys then made it to the quarters with their performance Saturday. 

Here is who is alive as basketball heads to Tacoma and Yakima. Teams that have qualified for the quarterfinals will play Thursday. Teams in the round of 12 play Wednesday.

Class 4A:
Union boys: State quarterfinals 

Skyview boys: Round of 12 

Battle Ground boys: Round of 12

Union girls: State quarterfinals
Camas girls: Round of 12

Class 3A:
Evergreen boys: Round of 12
Hudson’s Bay girls: Round of 12

Class 1A:
King’s Way Christian boys: Round of 12

La Center boys: Round of 12

Here is a roundup of a busy weekend featuring Clark County teams in the WIAA state regionals. Let’s start with the Battle Ground regional site:

Class 4A boys seeding game:

Union 66, Gonzaga Prep 64

These perfect Union Titans set a school record Saturday with their 25th win of the season.

They understand, though, that they cannot be considered the best team in program history without winning it all.

Mason Hill of Union is all smiles when he plays at Battle Ground High School. He has scored 55 points and made 13 3-pointers in his past two games there. Photo by WazMixHoops

Three more wins would do just that, now that they get to skip the Wednesday round-of-12 game at the Tacoma Dome.

Mason Hill scored a career-high 29 points, and the Titans beat the two-time defending state champions for the second time this season, advancing directly to the quarterfinals.

This was an 8-seed vs. a 1-seed matchup, meaning both teams were assured of advancing. Gonzaga Prep, though, now must play an elimination game on Wednesday.

Hill, meanwhile, might want to start charging rent at Battle Ground’s gym. He owns this place.

The last time he played here, he made six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 26 points in a close win over the Tigers.

He did even better in the state regionals.

“I love this gym for shooting,” Hill said. “It felt great. My teammates trusted me and got me the ball when I was open, and luckily I was able to knock them down.”

“Two things about this gym,” Union coach Blake Conley said. “Mason likes shooting in it. And people don’t like guarding him in it.”

It sure did seem like Gonzaga Prep was daring Hill to shoot. So he did.

Hill also got more looks early because Tanner Toolson played less than 90 seconds of the first quarter due to foul trouble.

This is Union, though. Someone new always finds a higher level of play, whether for the whole game or for just a few moments.

“Guys need to have confidence,” Conley said. “And our guys have confidence. Those guys stepped up. They knew they needed to hit some shots.”

Josh Reznick was scoreless in the first half, but his 3-pointer to end the third quarter broke a tie and ignited a 16-3 run. He scored eight of the first 10 of that run for the Titans. 

The Bullpups, who were led by Liam Lloyd’s 32 points, rallied in the closing minutes but never once had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead. Gonzaga Prep hit a late 3-pointer to make it a two-point game but the final horn sounded as Union inbounded the ball.

The result moved Union to 25-0.

“It feels good, but we’ve got more to come,” Reznick said. “We’re just excited for the dome.”

“We’re going out to win that ring,” Hill added. “We’re going out to win that state championship.”

Next: Union will play at 5:30 p.m. Thursday against the winner of Wednesday’s Olympia-Auburn game.

Class 4A boys elimination game:
Skyview 66, Jackson 56

Skyview coach Matt Gruhler said the Storm went on “a little bit of a run” to take control Saturday.  

A little bit? Try 18-0. 

“It was an 18-oh run? Wow. It didn’t feel like that,” Gruhler said.

It felt like a huge Storm for Jackson, though.

Jackson led 33-29 with 3 minutes left in the third quarter. It was almost six minutes off the clock before Jackson would score again.

All five Skyview players on the floor scored during that decisive stretch, giving the Storm a 47-33 advantage.

Squeeky Johnson, shown here earlier this season, scored 20 points Saturday to help Skyview make it to the Tacoma Dome. Photo by Mike Schultz

Kyle Gruhler and Squeeky Johnson each had 3-pointers, and Jace Chatman finished the run with a three-point play. 

“Even if we’re down, we know we can start to get it going,” Kyle Gruhler said. 

“This team has so much fight. I love this team so much,” Johnson added. “I knew we were going to find a way to take the lead and finish it.”

“Credit to our guys,” the coach said. “They just have that resolve. I believe in them, and they believe in themselves. They trust each other, which is the biggest part of being a good team.”

Kyle Gruhler finished with 22 points, Johnson added 10, and Chatman scored 16.

Now the Storm can make plans for Tacoma.

“This is the second time in school history that we’re going to go to the dome,” Kyle Gruhler said. “It’s one of those things we’ll remember forever. We might not remember this game, but we’ll always remember going to the dome. It’s super awesome to be able to go.”

Next: Skyview will play West Valley of Yakima at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday in a round-of-12, elimination game. 

Class 1A boys elimination game:

La Center 74, Bear Creek 59

It is the pace. It is always the pace for the La Center Wildcats.

They figure if they keep playing the way they do, the other team will get tired, the other team will start to feel that fatigue.

The Wildcats live off of other team’s fatigue.

And the Wildcats will live for at least one more game in this basketball season.

Hunter Ecklund had 27 points and nine assists, Isaiah Romero added 17 points, and the Wildcats pulled away from Bear Creek in a state regional elimination game.

With the win, the Wildcats get to go to the Yakima Valley SunDome for the round-of-12. And through seedings and results from Saturday’s games, the Wildcats will have a very familiar opponent in that round-of-12: King’s Way Christian.

“It’s huge. Coming into the season, I wasn’t sure where we were,” Hunter Ecklund said. “For us to be here right now, it’s just amazing.”

La Center led by 10 in the first quarter only to see Bear Creek cut it to three. Same thing happened in the second quarter.

“Us captains, we put pressure on the guys a little bit,” Hunter Ecklund said of the halftime pep talk. “And they stepped it up.”

La Center scored the first seven points of the second half to take a 13-point lead, and had a healthy lead the rest of the way.

Romero’s 3-pointer with five minutes to play gave La Center a 16-point lead. It was his fourth 3-pointer of the game.

“I knew we had to come out here and bring the intensity and bring the energy,” Romero said.

Hunter Ecklund did that, too, ruling the floor with his shooting and passing.

“That’s his usual,” Romero said.

La Center coach Jeremy Ecklund was thrilled for his team’s seniors to be able to get to the final week of the season. This will be the third time in four years the team has advanced to the dome.

“To be able to finish our season in Yakima is very special,” the coach said. 

Next: La Center will face Trico League champion King’s Way Christian at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Yakima Valley SunDome in an elimination game.

Elsewhere in games featuring Clark County teams …

Class 4A boys elimination game:

Battle Ground 72, Inglemoor 57

It was tied at halftime. Still close after three quarters.

Then the Battle Ground Tigers played like they were destined for the Tacoma Dome. 

After one of the toughest schedules in program history, after winning three of four in the bi-district just to get to a 14-10 record, the battle-tested Battle Ground Tigers used all that they had learned this season for one of their most impressive quarters of the year.

Kaden Perry scored 33 points, and the Tigers ran away from Inglemoor to make it to the dome for the second consecutive season.

Next: Battle Ground will play Federal Way at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday in a round-of-12 elimination game. 

Oh, and if you like to keep track of things of this nature, three teams from the 4A Greater St. Helens League are in the final 12 at state.

Class 4A girls seeding game:

Union 48, Todd Beamer 47

The Union Titans are going to the dome for the second time in program history and this will be their first quarterfinal appearance.

Lolo Weatherspoon had 14 points, and went 9 for 10 from the free-throw line, and Mackenzie Lewis had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in Friday’s victory.

Union, as the No. 7 seed, had already guaranteed an appearance in the dome. But the win over  Beamer sent the Titans straight to the quarterfinals.

Oh, and it was also a revenge game for the Titans. Todd Beamer beat Union the previous weekend for the bi-district championship.

Next: Union will play at 2 p.m. Thursday against the winner of Wednesday’s Moses Lake-Rogers (Puyallup) matchup. 

The brackets worked out just fine for Union fans. The girls play at 2 p.m. and the boys will play at 5:30 p.m. 

Class 4A girls elimination game:

Camas 56, Lake Stevens 42

The Camas defense did it again. And this time, the Papermakers got help from their outside shooters.

Haylie Johnson made five 3-pointers and scored 16 points, Jalena Carlisle added 14 points and Camas made a season-best 11 3-pointers to advance to the Tacoma Dome.

Camas posts Faith Bergstrom and Ashley Bauer were in foul trouble, coach Scott Thompson said, so the game plan had to change. The Papermakers adapted, then excelled. 

It was a one-point game at the break, then all Camas. The Papermakers made six of their 3-pointers in the third quarter, then cruised to victory.

The quality Camas defense forced Lake Stevens into 31 turnovers.

Next: Camas will take on Glacier Peak at 9 a.m. Wednesday in an elimination game at the Tacoma Dome. 

Class 3A girls elimination game:

Hudson’s Bay 55, Meadowdale 49

The Hudson’s Bay Eagles have a ton of young talent.

Still, it is always good to have some senior leadership in crunch time.

Ashley Rodriguez scored 10 of her 12 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Eagles rally for a six-point win to advance to the Tacoma Dome for the first time in program history.

(Confession time: that is a bit misleading. The Eagles did make it to the final week of state in 2007, but in that year, the 3A tournament was at KeyArena in Seattle. And the Eagles also made it to state in 1974, well before the Dome was around.) 

Also of interest, this was Bay’s last chance, at least in the immediate future, to get to the Tacoma Dome. Hudson’s Bay is moving to Class 2A next season.

Jaydia Martin scored a team-high 22 points, and Kamelai Powell added 12 points for the Eagles. 

Hudson’s Bay lost in this round last year. 

This year, the Eagles just keep getting better. 

Next: Hudson’s Bay will face Lake Washington at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday in a round-of-12 elimination game.

Class 3A boys seeding game:

Garfield 77, Evergreen 54

Garfield went on a crazy run to take a huge lead in this one, and then another big run ended it. 

Still, the Plainsmen performed so well all season that they earned a second chance. This was just a seeding game. Evergreen missed out on a chance to go directly to the quarterfinals but is still alive.

Next: Evergreen will take on Rainier Beach at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday in a round-of-12 elimination game at the Tacoma Dome. 

Class 1A boys seeding game:

Cashmere 56, King’s Way Christian 50

In a game that was close throughout, No. 2 Cashmere had enough to hold off King’s Way Christian to advance to the quarterfinals.

King’s Way Christian is not done yet, though. The Knights, as a No. 7 seed, had already earned a trip to Yakima.

Next: The top two teams from the Trico League will meet again. King’s Way Christian will face La Center at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in a round-of-12 elimination game at the Yakima Valley SunDome. King’s Way Christian is 2-0 against La Center this season. 

Class 3A girls elimination game:

Garfield 78, Prairie 29

Garfield was on fire early, and Prairie never got it going, and then the game turned into a runaway.

Still, Prairie made it to the state’s sweet 16 for the 23rd consecutive season. The defending champions will not be going to the Tacoma Dome, but the Falcons kept their streak alive. The last time Prairie did not make it to state: 1997. 

That is one of the greatest runs in Washington sports history. 

Class 2A boys elimination game:

Black Hills 55, Woodland 42

The incredible postseason run has ended for the Woodland Beavers. Black Hills pulled away late — it was a tie game early in the fourth quarter — to advance to Yakima.

Still, in the record books, from this day forward, it will say Woodland made it to the state tournament in 2020. Considering the team had a losing record in the regular season, that is quite the achievement.

Class 1A boys elimination game:

La Salle 80, Seton Catholic 59

It was all La Salle down the stretch as Seton Catholic saw its season end in the round of 16 for the second year in a row.

Still, quite an achievement for the third-place team from the Trico League. 

And the Cougars ended up finishing second in the district tournament, losing the title game in overtime. 

Class 1B girls elimination game: 

Lummi Nation 59, Columbia Adventist 38

The small school from Battle Ground missed out on an opportunity to go to Spokane, but it will still be considered a state berth for the Kodiaks. This is the third trip to state in the program’s history, and do not be surprised if there is another one next year. This year’s team has no seniors on the squad. 

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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