When the shot left Mitchel Mueller’s hands most of the people in the Kennewick gymnasium were already thinking about overtime.
Mueller, a deadly 3-point shooter, had a wide-open attempt at a game-tying 3, but the shot rimmed out and the Lions lost 63-60 to Shadle Park in a Class 3A District 5/8 semifinal.
“Yeah, honestly, I thought it was in, but it rimmed out,” Mueller said.
Trailing by three with 9 seconds left, the Lions came out of the timeout looking for a quick two, but nothing presented itself. Yiel Wuol launched a 3-pointer and it bounced long, where Colton Plew grabbed it, dribbled toward the arc and then kicked to a wide-open Mueller.
“Not exactly as we drew it up,” Kennewick coach Bradyn Leyde said. “We got aggressive and got an offensive board. Got the kickout to Mitch and couldn’t ask for a better spot and a better look at it. It looked like it was in, but it went out unfortunately.”
Even the Shadle Park players and coaches thought the shot was going to go in. Mueller had three 3-pointers already, and had a Shadle Park defender in his face all night long.
“Mueller is a heck of a player,” Shadle Park coach Tim Gaebe said. “We dodged a bullet. That guy had a great look and we were fortunate.”
With the victory, Shadle Park locks up a regional berth and will play at University High in Spokane at 7 p.m. today in the district title game. Kennewick (13-9) will host Mount Spokane at 7 p.m. today in an elimination game with the winner advancing to regionals.
“We are used to stuff like (this),” Mueller said of the loss. “It won’t be a problem. We’ll get the ‘W’ tomorrow.”
The Lions had a lot of chances to get the win Friday, but didn’t capitalize. They missed six free throws in the fourth quarter, including three on the front end of 1-and-1s.
They also were destroyed on the glass, being outrebounded 42-31. But Kennewick still found ways to stay in the game and have a shot at the win.
“When you have an eight-point deficit like we did,” Leyde said. “The fact that we got back into the game after missing the free throws shows the guys didn’t give up and played hard throughout. We just didn’t make enough shots.”
Shadle Park seemed to take control of the game with a 16-2 run overlapping the end of the third and the start of the fourth quarter to go ahead 53-44. The Highlanders still led 56-48 with 5:55 left in the game, but Mueller had a three-point play and Joshua Kutzke hit a 3-pointer to pull the Lions back into it.
The teams were never separated by more than three points the rest of the way, but the missed free throws cost the Lions down the stretch.
“I knew we were goin gto have our hands full,” Gaebe said. “We’re just fortunate the kids hung in there and found a way to get it done.”
Mueller finished with 24 points, four assists and four rebounds, while Alex Garcia had nine points. The Lions hit 10 3-pointers as a team.
Pilimai had 25 points and 20 rebounds, including eight offensive.
SHADLE PARK — George Pilimai 7 11-17 25, Dale Hagan 1 4-6 6, Andreas Brown 1 0-0 3, Sam Stratton 3 2-3 8, Alvin Welch 0 0-0 0, Kyle Knutsen 1 0-0 2, NKeil Nelson 4 2-2 12, Skyler Kelley 2 1-2 7, Eric Cooper 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 20-30 63.
KENNEWICK — Yiel Wuol 3 0-1 7, John Wuol 1 2-4 4, Mitchel Mueller 7 7-7 24, Colton Plew 2 0-1 4, Larry DeWitt 2 0-0 5, Dylan Tennancour 1 0-0 3, Dillon Plew 0 1-3 1, Alex Garcia 3 0-0 9, Joshua Kutzke 1 0-0 3. Totals 20 10-17 60.
Shadle Park 13 17 19 14 — 63
Kennewick 18 12 14 16 — 60
3-point goals—Shadle Park 5 (Kelley 2, Nelson 2, Brown), Kennewick 10 (Mueller 3, Garcia 3, Y. Wuol, DeWitt, Tennancour, Kutzke). Rebounds—SP 42 (Pilimai 20), Kennewick 31 (C. Plew, Mueller 4). Steals—SP 6 (Kelley 2), Kennewick 11 (Garcia 3). Turnovers—SP 17, Kennewick 13