CASHMERE — Kobe might not have stayed to watch the Cashmere boys take on Medical Lake, but he missed a real beauty.
Not necessarily because of the offense that was displayed, but more so the defensive tenacity.
Despite shooting an abysmal 5-for-36 from the field to start the game, the Bulldogs hung around with the No. 3 rated (RPI) Cardinals — largely because of their defensive effort — and eventually forced overtime after erasing a six-point deficit in the final 30 seconds following a pair of clutch 3-pointers by Carter Alberts and Sam Phillips.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs were unable to maintain that momentum in OT, falling 55-50. Phillips paced the team scoring with 18 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. Reid Smith chipped in 12 points off four 3-pointers and Alberts scored 12 points and recorded 13 rebounds.
“It was a great high school basketball game for the people that stuck around,” Cashmere head coach Levy Heyen said Monday. “I was super happy with our defensive effort, the guys were grinding and did everything we needed to do. If you would have told me before the game that we would hold them to 44 in regulation, I would have thought we would have won by 15 or 20. We were just ice-cold shooting. That stuff happens.”
Cashmere mustered just 17 points in the first half, but at the same time, they held Medical Lake to only 20.
Neither team could get into a rhythm. And it continued through the third quarter and into some of the fourth — it was almost like the basket had shrunk between the girls and boys game.
But with time running out and fans starting to put on their coats, the Bulldogs went on a thrilling run to close out regulation.
Medical lake first pushed its lead to six with 30 ticks left after sinking a pair of free-throws. Phillips then took the inbound and attacked the basket before finding a wide-open Alberts at the top of the key. The 6-foot-6 big man drained the 3-pointer before the Bulldogs called a timeout and then fouled to give the Cardinals another 1-and-1. The Cardinals missed their first attempt, allowing Alberts to grab the rebound and toss it ahead to Nate Phillips, who took two-dribbles toward the basket before dishing to his brother Sam for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer — sending the crowd into pandemonium.
Girls head coach Brent Darnell, who was watching the game in the second row, nearly fell flat on his face attempting to high-step in celebration — catching himself on the back wall mid-slip.
“We talked about each scenario if we were going to be down three, four or five points,” Heyen said of his message during one of the many timeouts in the final minute. “Just attack the basket and kick it out to an open shooter. The big man hit the first to cut the lead to three and then we called our timeout before the free-throw and not after because we didn’t want (Medical Lake) to get set defensively. We wanted to make a play while they were scrambling back and Nate found his brother to send the game into OT. I wish I could tell you I drew up a beautiful play, but we just gave them a little direction and let them make the play.”
Despite the loss, which snapped the Bulldogs’ seven-game winning streak, Cashmere remains unbeaten in league play and still sits atop the CTL at (7-3).
The Bulldogs will look to start another streak Tuesday with Cle Elum coming to town, before taking on Chelan Friday at home. Tipoff against Cle Elum is at 7:15 p.m., and at 7:30 p.m., against Chelan.