Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Garth Meyer
Gazette Reporter 

Oakesdale takes district in O.T.


February 27, 2020

Carl Crider; Kevin Young

Oakesdale Coach Carl Crider, far left, and Kevin Young, right, gather with the victors at Walla Walla Community College.

Was it the only open shot of the fourth quarter?

It wasn't even the fourth quarter anymore, it was overtime.

In a fierce fight in Walla Walla Friday night, Feb. 21, Oakesdale's Tyler Bober caught a pass in the rarity of open space – on the wing, under a minute left, in front of the Oakesdale crowd. The junior guard took the shot.

All net, it decided the game, after a defensive stop, 47-43 Oakesdale, for the Nighthawks' second consecutive District Nine 1B championship – finishing a three-game sequence with Garfield/Palouse this year which went to the last possession each time.

"Two teams that know each other well, it is very intense," said Oakesdale Coach Carl Crider. "When the game's over, the coaches almost feel like they've played."

Gar/Pal beat Oakesdale two weeks ago to take the league title. This time the two teams played for the district and something else – who was going to make the other take the bus back to Walla Walla the next day to play Prescott, the spoiler no. 3 seed that beat Oakesdale in the regular season and pushed them to the brink in the first round of districts a week before.

Gar/Pal-Oakesdale III was a matchup between a team that lost a starter and another that gained one since the last time they met. Vikings senior Dawson Dugger shifted in to the Dietrich Dome last Friday on crutches, in black jeans and a cowboy belt buckle – he bruised his femur in the waning moments of Gar/Pal-Oakesdale II. For the Nighthawks, junior wildcard Kit Hockett was back after an injured foot kept him out of the last feature presentation.

Now he and his Southeast 1B Player of the Year brother, senior guard Matt Hockett, came out to meet the Jones boys – Blake and Austin of Gar/Pal – with Dugger's spot filled by a three-man backup group; sophomore Jaxson Orr, freshman Caleb Zehm and junior Kyle Bankus.

The Jones boys would need them, as Austin fouled out with three minutes left in regulation and Zehm held the ball in key possessions in overtime and late in the fourth, making a six-foot shot with under a minute left. Oakesdale had Kit Hockett back along with guards Simon Anderson and Ryan Henning, who had not missed a game but Anderson took the floor in a makeshift black and white head bandage after he and Henning – in a black headband for the district title game – collided the week before going after a needed loose ball against Prescott.

With Garfield/Palouse fans wearing red "League Champions 2019-20" t-shirts, Walla Walla would be where to prove it. They led early, up 8-2, then Ethan Hawkins slapped away a Kit Hockett shot, a scramble ensued, Gar/Pal ball, down the foor, Austin Jones open for three, 15-6.

Into the second quarter, Matt Hockett bolted free for a fast-break score and blocking foul on Austin Jones. A Kit Hockett three-pointer cut Gar/Pal's lead to 15-12.

Matt Hocket was off from 23 feet at the halftime buzzer. Vikings led 17-13.

Back on the floor, Hockett cut it to 17-15.

"Burley defense!" called Oakesdale Coach Crider.

Gar/Pal answered and Kit Hockett hit from the outside again before he got the ball once more in the key, mis-directed a back-hip pass for a turnover, then chased down the Vikings' Jacob Anderson the length of the floor, stripping the ball from him under the Oakesdale basket. Hockett took off back the other way again, crossed mid-court, and the free throw line, swung the ball around his back and up to the basket, 21-21, tie game. Time out Gar/Pal.

A Matt Hockett drive gave the Nighthawks their first lead with 4:26 left in the third.

Then Ethan Hawkins banked-in a three-pointer to put Garfield/Palouse back up, before Blake Jones took the ball to the hoop, collision. He hit the ground but scored, with a foul, 27-22 Vikings.

Who's gonna have to take that bus ride?

Gar/Pal pushed their lead to seven on a rebound and putback from Hawkins.

At the end of the third quarter, Matt Hockett missed two free throws. Gar/Pal up 29-22 to start the fourth.

Then Tyler Bober hit a shot, a Jacob Anderson turnaround followed, keeping the lead at 31-24. Kit Hockett then drove for a score and a foul.

Oakesdale cut back into it. Kit Hockett for three, a four-point game. Ryan Henning with two free throws to make it two. Then another whistle, the fourth foul on Austin Jones.

Would he come out of the game? No, Coach Swinney kept him in.

"If you take him off the floor, that might decide the game," said Crider.

A minute later, Oakesdale's Simon Anderson drove and a whistle. Austin Jones' fifth foul.

Anderson hit both, 33-33, Jones walked to the bench for good.

At three minutes remaining, Austin Jones gone, Gar/Pal freshman Caleb Zehm went in the district championship game.

Ethan Hawkins hit two free throws, for 35-33 Vikings. Then Jacob Anderson, at the end of the shot clock, scored from eight feet, a four-point Vikings lead, 1:49 left.

Matt Hockett followed from underneath, Blake Jones with his third foul. Hockett made the free throw to cut the lead to one.

Under a minute left, Gar/Pal passed the ball around, Zehm dribbled in and took an open six-footer. Then Ryan Henning hit from outside for Oakesdale, three points, tie game, 39-39.

45 seconds remaining, time out on the floor and the two team's crowds' chants clashed: "Viking... ! are Oakesda–!―–ower!

Back in play, Gar/Pal ball, a shot went up, a desperate scramble for the rebound, the ball bouncing free low to the floor between Matt and Kit Hockett. Jacob Anderson suddenly dropped straight between them to the ground to smother the ball.

"Time out!" he looked up and yelled to the ref.

30 seconds remained. Gar/Pal ball.

"Nighthawk Power!" came the chant from the Oakesdale crowd, led by a group of grade-school kids high in the bleachers.

Back on the floor, Gar/Pal's Zehm threw a pass near half-court to Orr and it went off his hands, out of bounds.

Timeout Oakesdale, 21 seconds left.

On a last possession (in regulation) Oakesdale sent the ball to Matt Hockett, and cleared to the other side of the court. Hockett drove against Blake Jones, passing off at the last moment to Kit Hockett for a shot. He missed. Ethan Hawkins came down with the rebound and threw to Blake Jones, a long pass to Orr, a shot, buzzer, almost, overtime.

Four minutes back on the clock and soon time out on the floor, Blake Jones limping to the huddle with an apparent ankle injury.

Back at it, Ethan Hawkins threw an accidental pass to Matt Hockett, and the Player of the Year bolted loose down the center of the floor and laid it in, 43-43.

Gar/Pal failed to answer and Oakesdale got the ball back. Working it around again, under a minute left in overtime, Kit Hockett screened down from the wing to the block at the side of the lane, getting in front of Tyler Bober's man. Bober bolted outside and was suddenly open.

The ball arrived and he shot.

Roar! 46-43 Oakesdale.

Time out Vikings, 34 seconds left.

Zehm passed to Jones, a deep three-pointer at the end of the shot clock as Simon Anderson fought off a screen.

The ball bounced out, short, Matt Hockett came down with it and threw to Simon Anderson. Gar/Pal fouled him and he went to the line and put it out of reach.

Matt Hockett lead Oakesdale with 18 points and nine rebounds in the game while Kit Hockett had 16 points and also nine rebounds.

Blake Jones scored 17 to lead the Vikings in the loss.

Oakesdale advanced, Gar/Pal would have to come back for Prescott.

Blake Jones' 23 points and a list of assists and rebounds were not enough last Saturday in Walla Walla for Garfield/Palouse to fend off Prescott.

To wrest the game to a conclusion, it required five technical fouls and two ejections.

After a bus ride back to Walla Walla, following the Vikings' overtime loss in the championship game, Garfield/Palouse put on their uniforms again to play no. 3-seed Prescott. The season was on the line.

The winner would get the last berth to regionals, the loser shut out.

Prescott led quickly. With two free throws off of a technical foul on Vikings coach Steve Swinney, they went up 11-4.

Prescott spread far out on defense, and kept pushing Gar/Pal to the edge of the shot clock.

In the second quarter, Gar/Pal cut into the lead; Blake Jones scored to start it, playing the game with a high-ankle sprain from the district championship game, then Jaxson Orr scored twice to tie it. Orr again from outside, 14-13 Gar/Pal. Prescott answered, it went back and forth, Blake Jones from the corner to stay within two points. Jacob Anderson passed to Jones for a two-footer, 19-19 tie.

Austin Jones from the other corner made it 25-21 with three seconds until halftime.

Prescott broke away and answered before the buzzer, with a whistle. No shot, traveling!

Then the refs talked to both coaches, Swinney going back and forth with one ref while Prescott coach Allyn Griffin jawed with another. Gar/Pal assistant Tasha Gehring – Swinney's daughter – kept a spot between Swinney and the ref, the head coach running on two hours of sleep the night before, up watching film on Prescott again.

After halftime, in the first possession of the third quarter, Orr got his third foul and the freshman Caleb Zehm went back in the game.

Blake Jones passed to Anderson inside and Gar/Pal went up two points, then a five-footer from Jones put it at 29-25.

Then, the turn of the game came from Austin Jones.

Chasing Prescott's senior guard Jonathen Cardenas on a fast break, Jones leapt and blocked Cardenas' shot. Jones took the ball, rushed it back up the floor on the dribble and threw to Ethan Hawkins for a score and a foul, 32-27 Gar/Pal.

On the next possession, Austin Jones drove and passed out to Hawkins again, on the baseline, from eight feet, score, a seven-point Vikings lead.

After Hawkins made the shot, Blake Jones chased down Cardenas on a long inbound pass, whistle. Traveling!

An argument came from the Prescott coach. The ref listened, and blew a whistle again, technical foul on Coach Allyn Griffin.

Austin Jones took the two free throws, making both, 36-27.

Into the fourth quarter, Gar/Pal's Anderson bulled to the basket for a shot, colliding with Prescott senior post Victor Garcia, a whistle, charging. Garcia waved a finger at Anderson, the gesture to say tsk, tsk, you can't do that. Whistle! Technical foul on Garcia. You can't do that either.

Anderson went to the line.

"Wait, was it a foul on the shot too?" came the question from the Gar/Pal bench.

No – Austin Jones walked over to take the free throws instead of Anderson. He missed both, still 36-27, 6:45 left in the fourth.

Gar/Pal took possession again, worked the ball around and after two misses and offensive rebounds, Austin passed to Ethan Hawkins, score, an 11-point Vikings lead.

Gar/Pal ball again and Swinney called out direction.

"Patience!" he said.

Then Anderson scored on a second effort.

Blake Jones followed, another drive and a pass-off to Hawkins, a baseline six-footer, swish, Gar/Pal had it in hand, 42-29.

Kit Hockett; Blake Jones

Oakesdale junior forward Kit Hockett pulls a rebound clear of Gar/Pall senior Blake Jones in overtime of the Nighthawks' 47-43 win at the Dietrich Dome in Walla Walla.

Then Prescott's coach Griffin with another exchange with a ref. Whistle, technical foul. A tossing gesture followed as the ref stepped away. He bumped into Prescott's Garcia. Whistle, T, then another tossing gesture.

Both the coach and player were ejected. A pause, the Prescott coach still talking.

"How much time does he get?" said Swinney to the other ref downcourt.

Garcia walked off the floor to the locker room and after two minutes or so, the coach followed, escorted by the third ref.

Blake Jones went to the foul line to shoot four free throws. He made the first two and missed the third. He hit the fourth with a smile.

The Vikings advanced to regionals, a no. 11 seed, to meet no. 14 Chief Kitsap Academy of Poulsbo Saturday at University High School in Spokane. Game time is 4 p.m. The winner goes to state, the loser eliminated.

What did coach Swinney know about the Chief Kitsap Academy team as of Wednesday morning?

"Absolutely nothing," he said. "I can't find anything on them."


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