Fife Trojans (11-5 league, 18-7 overall) took to the hardwood at ShoWare Arena in Kent Feb. 21 to face the top seed Clover Park Warriors (17-1 league, 23-2 overall) in the 2A West Central District bi-district boys' championship game.
Both teams came into the game well aware of their opponents' abilities, having split two games in regular season play. In spite of a noble effort, particularly on defense, the Trojans came up short 54-38.
The Warriors came into the game after a fresh 64-60 victory over the Franklin Pierces Cardinals (9-6 league, 12-11 overall) in the 2A West Central District semifinals, while the Trojans had secured their place in the championship game by downing Kingston 57-45.
The Warriors started out fast and furious, taking the lead 13-9 in the first period of action with 3:23 left. The Trojans defense, known as a major obstacle for opponents in the paint, couldn't stop the Warriors from penetrating. When the Trojans did lock down the inside game, the Warriors went to the long ball from freshman guard Ahmaad Rorie (14 points), the leading scorer for the Warriors.
In the second period, the Trojans clawed back, going on an explosive run resulting in 14 points on the board. In spite of this drive and their early success in the first period, the Warriors still outscored the Trojans in the first half 32-22.
Fife was not about to sit quietly by, and in third period, they continued to fight to get back in the game, forcing turnovers and stretching their defense out, causing the Warriors problems. However, Trojans were outscored 10-14 in the third period.
In the final period of action, the Trojans stepped up their defense even further, putting a damper on Clover Park's explosive defensive efforts. In the final minutes of play, the Warriors used the clock to their advantage, resulting in an 8-6 fourth period lead and securing their victory over Fife.
The Trojan leading scorer Kevin McCrossin, who came in averaging 14.8 points per game, had problems getting off the shot because of the stifling warriors defense. McCrossin managed to get off two three-pointers, finishing off the game with six points. Junior Bryce Miller led the Trojans with 9 points.
This is first time in the season the Trojans starters have been held below double digits in scoring.Hoping to rebound from this defeat, the Trojans will move on to regional competition at Tumwater High School, facing River Ridge High on Feb 25.
The Trojans will look to their senior leadership to get them back on track. Last year the Trojans ended up making to the 2A State Tournament fourth/seventh place game. The Trojans lost in overtime against the Mark Morris High School (Longview) 64-63.
Where do the Trojans go now?
The 2A West Central Districts champions Clover Park Warriors (17-1 league 23-2 overall) will square up with the fundamentally-sound Squalicum Storm Feb 25 at Mount Tahoma High School. The Fife Trojans (11-5 league, 18-7 overall) will continue the road to Yakima playing No. 5 River Ridge Hawks on Feb 25 at Tumwater High School.
The winners of both games advance to the 2A state quarterfinals at the Yakima Sun Dome. The losers will play on Saturday, which will decide who is heading to Yakima, and who will be watching from stands for the rest of the tournament.