High School Sports

Liberty Christian falls in title game

SPOKANE -- There's a first time for everything.

Saturday's 66-41 loss to Pe Ell at the 2B boys state basketball championship was Liberty Christian's first shot at a state title.

Coach Terry Watson doesn't think it will be the Patriots' last.

"We've got a good young group coming back," he said.

But that wasn't much of a consolation for the four LC seniors who wanted to go out on a winning note. Cody Brockman was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 18 points and 9.3 rebounds in four games, but the Pats' 6-foot-3 post had to fight through tears after watching the Trojans celebrate a state title for the first time in school history.

"Their defense was great, and we just got flustered," Brockman, who finished with nine points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes.

Pe Ell, which had been to state four times but never trophied, knew it had to stop Brockman and guard Jake Siefken to have a chance against third-ranked LC. But even the Trojans' top scorer Hank Robinson couldn't have imagined such a prolific shooting performance in the biggest game of the year.

"Honestly, I thought we were going to place, but I didn't know how high," said Robinson, who led the Trojans with 20 points and was named tournament MVP. "In the third quarter we were feeling it. We forced a couple turnovers and started pulling away."

Pe Ell shot 44 percent, which wasn't an overwhelming total, but it was the timing of those shots that had the Patriots reeling. Robinson and Lerry Tolliver hit back-to-back 3-pointers in both the second and third quarter to boost the Trojans' ever-growing lead.

As PE's shots continued to fall in the third quarter -- the Trojans hit 9 of 13 during the quarter -- LC never found the rhythm it used to arrive in its first-ever title game.

"We ran into a team that was a little better than we were today, but now the kids know how to do it," Watson said. "I feel bad for the seniors. They worked really hard to get here."

The Patriots kept it close in the first quarter, taking an early 5-2 lead as Siefken hit his first two shots -- a pull-up jumper and a 3-pointer from the left wing. Brockman later hit a free throw to give LC a 10-9 lead with 2:03 left. But Tolliver answered 39 seconds later with a three-point play that gave Pe Ell a 12-10 lead, and the Trojans never trailed again.

Siefken hit a 3-pointer to cap the first half scoring and keep the Patriots within nine points at 28-19. But the 5-8 sophomore finished just 4-of-16 from the floor and 2-of-8 from long range to finish with 11 points.

"He's been a leader all year, and next year he'll be a little better," Watson said of the second-team all-tournament selection.

Second chances were also a big factor for Pe Ell. The Trojans outrebounded LC 44-23, which included 14 offensive boards.

Robinson and Joseph Vetter each grabbed nine rebounds.

In one last gasp for Liberty Christian, Aaron Salzano drilled a 3-pointer form the left wing to open the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 49-31. But Dylan Toepelt scored four points during an 8-1 run that crushed the short-lived rally.