Before Squalicum could get its bearings, too much damage had been done.
The Storm had its eye on a third-place trophy heading into its consolation matchup with River Ridge, but Squalicum dug far too deep of a hole to climb out of.
The Hawks seemingly couldn't miss early on from long range, and Squalicum’s misses came in bunches.
“We came out flat,” Storm coach Dave Dickson said. “We weren’t mentally ready, and River Ridge was. We played hard in the second half, but it was too little too late.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
Squalicum displayed its resiliency by trimming River Ridge’s lead to single digits late in the third quarter, but poor fourth-quarter shooting resulted in a Class 2A State Tournament 72-50 loss Saturday morning, March 7, at the Yakima SunDome.
The Storm’s consolation was a fifth-place trophy, Squalicum’s sixth top-five finish in the last 11 years.
Storm guard Damek Mitchell scored a team-high 16 points to go with a team-best 10 rebounds. Darious Powell and Josiah Westbrook scored 11 points apiece.
Squalicum (19-9) scored 38 of its 50 points in the middle two quarters, as a slow start and a rough final eight minutes cost the Storm.
Trailing by as much as 24 in the first half, Squalicum rallied all the way back to trim River Ridge's lead to 49-43 with 1:42 left in the third following a barrage of Storm 3-pointers.
Consecutive 3s from Westbrook, Powell, Westbrook and Harper Moore changed the game from 46-29 to 49-43 in a matter of 2:18.
But when Squalicum needed that production to carry over into the fourth, the Storm’s offense went ice cold. Squalicum scored seven points in the final quarter with no field goals.
“It was a lot of heart, and the boys showed a lot of competitive spirit,” said Dickson of the Storm’s comeback effort. “That's just how they were all year long. Unfortunately, we didn't execute early on, and River Ridge hit more shots than we did in the early part of the game, and we had to play from behind.”
Three minutes into the fourth the Hawks had built a 58-43 lead, and they continued to pour it on the rest of the way.
River Ridge shot 43.1 percent from the field and was 9 of 21 beyond the arc. On the contrary, the Storm shot just 23.7 percent and were 6 of 28 from deep.
Squalicum also struggled on the boards.
Day one of the Hardwood Classic, River Ridge displayed its gritty rebounding style against Sehome, grabbing 22 offensive boards. The Hawks brought that same rebounding ability to their game against Squalicum, outrebounding the Storm 54-32.
The defeat marked the final game for Squalicum seniors Moore, Chris Paz, Raja Sidhu and Ben Tripp, but Dickson was thrilled with the season his team engineered.
“They were extremely coachable, and because of their coachability, it was a heck of a lot of fun for me, and we got better,” Dickson said. "The other thing about them is they were good teammates. They cared about each other, and they sacrificed for the good of the team. It's not often a whole group does that.”
The Storm’s future appears bright with scoring leaders Mitchell, Powell and Westbrook all returning.
River Ridge 72, Squalicum 50
River Ridge: Labrandon Price 10, Alex Coleman 7, Issiah Scott 2, Kobey Key 7, Thayer Murphy 18, Mac Armstrong 2, Kolton Knox 0, Alfonso Vela 8, Jason Kananin 16, Tyrell Chisholm 0, Tommy Hunkin-Clark 2, Kade Coleman 0. Totals: 25-58 13-20 72.
Squalicum: Harper Moore 6, Noah Westerhoff 4, Josh Vail 0, Ben Wolters 0, Darious Powell 11, Damek Mitchell 16, Josiah Westbrook 11, Ben Tripp 0, Creighton Kaui 0 Chris Paz 2, Raja Sidhu 0, Connor Sage 0. Totals: 14-59 16-24 50.
3-point field goals — River Ridge: 9 (Murphy 5); Squalicum: 6 (Powell 3). Rebounds — River Ridge: 54 (Hunkin-Clark 10); Squalicum: 32 (Mitchell 10). Assists — River Ridge: 14 (Murphy 8); Squalicum: 8 (Westbrook 4). Fouls — River Ridge: 20 (Key); Squalicum: 17. Turnovers — River Ridge: 13; Squalicum: 7.