Even without injured Gonzaga signee Corey Kispert, King’s High has plenty of talent and muscle.
Mount Baker (18-6) did not back down an inch, but the Mountaineers could not extend a fine season.
King’s (20-5) made the most of desperate Baker’s 17 second-half fouls in the Knights’ 68-57 win in a gritty winner-to-state Class 1A Northwest District game Saturday at Mountlake Terrace High.
Kings shot only 20 for 56 (35.7 percent), but the Knights made 25 of 35 free-throw attempts (71.4 percent), including 17 of 26 in the fourth quarter as the Knights refused to surrender the lead despite flying Baker bodies everywhere, or so it seemed.
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With the Mounties down 62-51 and less than a minute left, Baker senior leader Grant Balvanz hit two 3s, the second a pro-length triple off the glass to cut King’s lead to 63-57 with 38 seconds left. But King’s scored the game’s final five points on free throws.
The last two shots from the line were by point guard Dawson Porcello, who finished with a game-high 25 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter. He also hit two 3s in the tense period.
‘LOT OF LOVE’
“There’s a lot of love on this team,” said Baker assistant coach Josh Barbo. “We’ve seen it in practice all season.”
That’s why it was so tough for coach Rob Gray to have his son, fourth-year point guard Keenan Gray (unspecified administrative decision), unable to play against King’s, which also received 19 points from 6-5 Luke Wicks, 11 from Josh Frohardt and nine from 6-8 Chewy Zevenbergen.
As usual, Baker received big moments from every starter plus 6-8 junior sixth man Ethan Gates, who had six points and eight rebounds while battling taller King’s.
Balvanz led Baker with 15 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and fellow senior T.J. Bass went out with 12. Jed Schleimer scored seven, while sophomore point guard Kaleb Bass had 11 and junior Thomas Barbo six.
“You saw how Grant just wouldn’t quit,” Josh Barbo said. “He has a motor that just doesn’t stop.”
Indeed, it seemed Baker was still in it at 63-57, but the Mounties had to foul, and King’s took full advantage.
FINE FIRST HALF
Baker shot 13 for 22 in the first half for a 30-28 lead as its top six players scored.
But the Mounties made only one of their first 13 shots in the second half and finished 7 for 26 after intermission.