The Warrior boys basketball team raced to an early lead and did just enough in the end to hang on and earn an important win over Wesco South rival Kamiak, 61-57. E-W saw their 13 point first quarter lead slip to six at the half and narrowed to just one with just over a minute left. In the final minute, the defense stiffened and the Warriors made important free throws to seal the win.
With the score 54-53, Kamiak missed an open jumper, Jason Smarr took the outlet pass from Theo Lebesis,and hit Travis Bakken on the run, for a lay-in who was fouled on the play and converted the free throw, increasing the lead back to four. Following another Kamiak miss, Bakken was again fouled and this time converted two free throws to extend the margin to six. Just when it seemed like the lead was safe, the Warriors missed an open jumper and fouled Kamiak’s Nate Shubert, who made one of two. E-W turned the ball over and Kamiak’s Drew Blacksmith quickly hit a three-pointer, his 20th point of the game, shrinking the lead to two. On the ensuing inbounds play, the Knights intentionally fouled Smarr who converted one of the two free-throws. The Warriors fouled Kamiak’s Chance Lord with 6.5 seconds left, but he missed both free throws. Lebesis was fouled on the rebound, converted one of two, giving the Warriors the final victory margin of four.
The statistical highlight of this game was the Warriors passing out 22 assists including a team and season high 12 from Tate Budnick. All but three Warrior baskets were assisted on. Bakken led E-W in scoring, finishing with 21 and also added 12 rebounds. Smarr’s line read 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. Jordan Rice and Lebesis had seven apiece with Ibro Polovina and Brady Edwards each scoring five. Chukwuma Okereke had three blocks and two points in his Wesco debut.
Tonight’s game starts a heavy stretch of league games in a short period, with six games scheduled over the next 12 days, including a road game at Cascade Saturday night. The Warriors are now 2-1 in league, sitting just a game behind league leaders Jackson
E-W 21 15 11 15 61
Kamiak 12 18 9 18 57
Warrior Scoring: Holland, Rice 7, Edwards 5, Budnick, Polovina 5, Lebesis 7, Smarr 14, Bakken 21
Warrior 3 pointers: Smarr (2), Rice, Edwards
Warriors conference record 2-1, Kamiak 2-2
— By Jeff Smarr