SPOKANE — Brad Wilson said that the hardest trophy to win at the state tournament, after the big one, is the award given to the fourth-place team.
That trophy is given to the team that loses its first-round game, sees its state championship hopes go up in flames, but is able to regroup to win games in the next two days.
That’s what the Lake Roosevelt boys basketball team accomplished on Saturday, defeating LaConner 62-51 at the Spokane Arena in the Class 2B state tournament.
“We just wanted to focus on doing our best, let it all hang out and let the chips fall where they may. We weren’t so worried about how things would go,” said Wilson, whose Raiders wrapped up the season at 23-5 and took hom their first state trophy since 1979. “They say this trophy is the second-toughest to win, and we did a good job of dealing with it mentally.”
The win was part of a banner weekend for Lake Roosevelt basketball, as both the boys and girls programs left Spokane with the best finishes in the histories of the respective teams.
“It was just a fabulous few days for Raider Nation,” said Wilson, who also serves as the school’s athletic director. “We had a ton of people out supporting us and it was cool to be closer to home, instead of in Yakima where we’ve been the past few years. It was a real unifying factor, which was good to see.”
The Raiders never trailed against LaConner, and though the Braves came within a bucket on two occasions in the fourth quarter, Lake Roosevelt kept its lead with defense and free-throw shooting.
The Raiders went 10-for-10 from the line in the fourth quarter and 23-for-28 for the game, while LaConner made just 1-for-11 from the stripe for the game.
Lake Roosevelt maintained control despite a 3-point barrage from the Braves. LaConner made 12-of-29 shots from beyond the arc, led by five triples from Spencer Novak.
“They weren’t shy about shooting it from NBA range,” Wilson said. “We just extended our zone further and further out, and went to a triangle-and-two in the last four minutes.”
That final adjustment befuddled the Braves.
Lake Roosevelt returns all five of its starters next season.
“The goal is always to try and improve,” Wilson said. “We know what it takes to get back here, and it’s where we want to be.”