How fast everything can change at Yakima’s SunDome.
Squalicum finished day one celebrating a rousing lopsided win over Olympic. The Storm, at the hands of Clarkston, left day two reeling.
For a half Squalicum hung with Clarkston, but the Storm were no match for the Bantams during the final two quarters. Seemingly every time Squalicum made a shot, one of Clarkston’s many scorers responded.
The Storm were back in the state semifinals for the first time since Squalicum reached the state title game three straight years from 2009-11, but another championship appearance will have to wait as the Storm fell 73-51 in a Class 2A State Tournament semifinal matchup Friday, March 6.
“I was proud of our effort,” Storm coach Dave Dickson said. “That was a very good team we played, and we battled. It seemed like every time we cut the lead or made a little run, they hit a 3. They shot the ball really well in addition to playing a good floor game.”
The loss sends the Storm into a game for third- or fifth-place against River Ridge at 11:15 a.m. Saturday, March 7.
The Storm trailed only 25-19 at half, but a 9-2 Clarkston run to open the second half doomed Squalicum.
“I think in the first half we were with them and playing real well,” Storm senior Harper Moore said. “We weren’t hitting our shots, and they seemed to be hitting a lot of theirs. I just think they played a better game than us tonight.”
Storm guard Damek Mitchell played a tremendous game, serving as Squalicum’s top offensive option against Clarkston’s stingy man-to-man defense. He finished with a team-best 20 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three assists.
“He is so passionate and plays with so much heart,” Dickson said of Mitchell. “You got to love the way he competes out there. He was the heart and soul of what we were doing out there.”
Josiah Westbrook finished with nine points and five rebounds, and Darious Powell, who had six 3s during the Storm’s tournament opener, was limited to seven points on 1 of 7 shooting from beyond the arc.
The Storm saw a zone defense in its state quarterfinal, but Clarkston stifled Squalicum’s offense with the length and athleticism of its man-to-man.
Mitchell helped Squalicum pull ahead early 9-6, but the Bantams scored six straight to end the first quarter. The Storm tied the game at 19 after Mitchell followed a basket by Powell with a bucket of his own with 1:40 to go until halftime, but Clarkston again ended the quarter with another six-point run.
Clarkston’s array of offensive weapons simply overwhelmed Squalicum and its gritty man-to-man after the break.
“They had a couple of kids get hot,” Dickson said. “We were helping off of them, and when that happened those kids started making shots, and it made it difficult to pressure them and try to turn things around.”
Clarkston’s CJ Johnson was particularly impressive. The 6-foot-4 senior forward finished with a team-high 20 points and 12 rebounds. Trevon Allen (17 points), Jett Sobotta (11) and Trevor Sperry (10) also finished in double figures.
The Bantams led by as many as 21 points, 46-25, in the third quarter, but a basket by Mitchell early in the fourth trimmed Squalicum’s deficit to 49-34.
But just when the Storm were offered a glimmer of hope, a 13-5 Clarkston run dashed Squalicum’s dream for a comeback.
The Storm only shot 29.0 percent from the field, while Clarkston shot 52.1 percent.
“I think we were out of sync tonight as far as our lay-ins and shots, and credit them” Dickson said. “They were good defensively. It seemed like we lost our focus at times when we were finishing. We just didn’t finish.”