Bucs head to state tournament after single-point victory | Boys basketball

STANWOOD - Kingston's Cody Combs said he knows if the Kingston Buccaneers can play on a court as loud as the one Friday night, they can play anywhere, including the state tournament. And that is exactly where they are headed next.

On Friday night, the Bucs clinched a state berth, defeating the Cedarcrest Red Wolves 74-73 in the 2A Regional Tournament at Stanwood High School. They head to the Hardwood Classic March 1 for a shot at the 2A State title at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

"I knew we were going to pull it off," Brady Sundquist said. "We have some magic going on right now.

"That was a huge win."

What a win it was. The Bucs and Wolves were tied 73-73. KT Deam, who scored 14 points against the Wolves, passed to Sam Byers. Instead of giving Byers a shot, the Wolves fouled Byers with about 5 seconds left. The game came down to a free throw.

Byers stepped up to the free-throw line. He missed the first shot. And then: "I just saw myself shoot it," he said.

Byers sank the second free throw, putting the Bucs up by one point. It was Byers' 25th point.

The Wolves, racing down the court, were unable to come up with a shot.

"Honestly, if you had asked me as a kid and you asked me now, I would want me to be in that same position," Byers said of his game-ending free throw. "And I hope my teammates would want to be there as well, shooting the last shot to ice the game."

The game was a steady back-and-forth shoot-out. While the Wolves are not a tall team — their tallest player is 6 foot 4 inches — they landed continuous three-pointers. Earlier in the week, Buccaneer's head coach Blake Conley said he knew the Wolves were shooters. And though they gave up 74 points, they had some of the best defense he's seen.

"It seems like every time we hit a big shot, they answered right back," Bucs team captain Richie Sander, who scored 17 points, said. "But we stuck with our defense."

The teams tied at the end of the first quarter, 17-17. By the half, the Bucs were up 36-35. In the third, the game was once again tied, 53-53.

As the game progressed, the energy on the court increased. Kingston Coach Jeff Sawicki said that is the nature of Buc basketball: There may be a slow start, but that tends to change.

By the fourth quarter, with about 3 minutes left and the clock running down, the game was once again tied (66-66). The Bucs inched ahead, at one point taking a 71-68 lead. A couple missed blocks, however, put the game at 73-73. That's when the Wolves, hoping for the best, fouled Byers, who ended the game with a single free-throw point.

Though Byers' final free throw ended the game, he credited the entire team's effort. Including Sander, who scored the second-most points in the night.

"Big players make big plays in big games," Byers said.

The Bucs head to the Yakima Valley SunDome — 1301 South Fair Ave., Yakima — for the Hardwood Classic.  A draw will be done Feb. 26 to determine the first round of match-ups.

The other 2A schools advancing through the regional tournament include Anacortes, Clover Park, Lindbergh, Lynden and White River.


KHS 17 19 17 21

Lead scorers: Sam Byers, 25; KT Deam, 14; Lucas Mays, 11; Richie Sander 17


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