Julian Vaughn didn't score Monday, but he was still the MVP for Tacoma.
The 6-foot-4 forward blanketed Big Bend's Blake Skidmore, holding him well under his tournament average and helped key a 77-67 semifinal victory over the Vikings in the NWAACC tournament at the Toyota Center.
Skidmore, who scored 42 points in the opener Saturday and added 33 on Sunday, was held to 19 points on 5-of-17 shooting from the field.
"The plan was to limit his touches," Vaughn said. "He's the best mover without the ball in the NWAACC and we just wanted to limit him. We knew he would make shots, but just wanted to make him work for it."
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Skidmore didn't make many shots, as Vaughn, Damani Coley and Demetrius Smith took turns picking him up at halfcourt. Skidmore was just 1-of-7 from the 3-point line.
"We have the best defender in the NWAACC," Tacoma coach Carl Howell said. "He has locked down the best players all year. I just don't think Big Bend had seen anything like that."
Tacoma will play Chemeketa at 8 p.m. in the championship game.
On Monday, the Titans used a 10-2 run early in the first half to open up a double digit lead that it rode nearly the entire game.
Big Bend did pull within six twice in the final 5:45, but could get no closer as the Titans made their free throws down the stretch to keep the Vikings at bay.
Tacoma got a big offensive contribution from Dominique Williams, who hit five 3-pointers and scored a game-high 23 points.
"I struggled with my shot the first two games and coach told me just to keep shooting that it would fall," Williams said. "I said a prayer before the game and my shots fell."
Williams' offensive output was key, as the country's leading scorer Mark McLaughlin was off and never got going consistently. McLaughlin did score 22 points, but was just 5-for-20 from the field. Despite the poor shooting he nearly had a triple-double, pulling down 12 rebounds and dishing out seven assists. He added three steals.
"Dominique is our heart and soul," Howell said. "He stepped up and hit some tough shots."
Moses Lake graduate Josh Loera scored 23 points for Big Bend, hitting six 3-pointers, but it wasn't enough as the Titans' defense was the key to the game.
Big Bend shot just 38.3 percent from the field.
"There are a lot of skeptics about that side of our game," Vaughn said. "I take pride in our defense."
Chemeketa 98, Peninsula 91: It was like a feeding frenzy.
Using a scrappy, opportunistic defense, the Storm used a devastating 22-0 run midway through the second half to shock the defending champion Pirates.
"I don't think they expected that," Chemeketa's Gavin Kauffman said. "I don't think anyone in the arena expected that at all."
Trailing 54-52, Johnny Howard hit a 3-pointer and had back-to-back layups. Jordan Batey then hit a 3-pointer and Kauffman hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Storm on top 68-54.
Jason Martin then had a putback and two free throws and Howard closed the run with a layup and a 74-54 lead with 9:29 left in the game.
"When others are hitting their shots, you feed off of it," said Howard, who had nine of his 12 points during the run. "We all made plays."
The victory moves Chemeketa into the championship game against Tacoma at 8 p.m. today.
Peninsula was expected to roll Monday, but the athletic Pirates never got untracked.
Heavily recruited DeShuan Freeman, a 6-foot-7 post from Los Angeles, finished with just eight points and nine rebounds.
A host of Storm players created havoc for Freeman, including Hermiston graduate Trevor Phillips.
"We knew he was a big inside threat and would get his touches," Howard said. "We made sure we had backside help and that he had a hand in his face and then boxed out. Didn't want to give up second-chance points."
Peninsula did attempt a late rally, going on an 11-0 run to pull within 88-77 with 2:33 left. After some sloppy play by the Storm and a 3-pointer by Sam Waller, Peninsula was within 94-88 with 26 seconds left. But there was no miracle this night for the Pirates, just a determined team effort by Chemeketa.
"This is so fun. It's amazing," a charged-up Kauffman said. "This is the funnest game I've ever played in."
Kauffman finished with 25 points, hitting 5-of-10 from the 3-point arc. Batey added 19 points, Phillips had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Tyler Funk had 25 points, eight assists, seven steals and six rebounds to lead Peninsula. Waller finished with 21 points.
Yakima Valley 84, Spokane 72: Amir Royal had 22 points for Yakima Valley to help offset the 35 points Preston Wynne scored for Spokane, and the Yaks advanced to the fifth-place game.
Bellevue 75, Clackamas 56: Keaton Hayenga hit a 3-pointer with six minutes remaining in the first half to put Bellevue ahead 14 points, and the Bulldogs never trailed.
Shoreline 80, Lower Columbia 77: Avery Scharer shouldered 20 points and 12 rebounds as Shoreline moved into the game for seventh place with a win against Lower Columbia.
Mt. Hood 89, SW Oregon 67: Curtis Papenfuss had 28 points and Spencer Clayton had 22 as Mt. Hood qualified for the fifth-place game with an easy victory against SW Oregon.