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Loggers’ Season Ends to District 4 Foe Willapa Valley

By Eric Trent

etrent@chronline.com 

SPOKANE — It may not have ended how they wanted but it’s hard to call this season a disappointment. Onalaska’s 66-47 state-opening loss to Willapa Valley Wednesday marked the end of the Loggers season but hopefully set the foundation for the future.

The Loggers finished fourth in the 2B Central League, fell to what will likely be the 2B state champions in Life Christian, then came alive to claim a state title berth. Ony proceeded to reel off three straight do-or-die victories, all 15-40 point blowout wins in the district tourney, followed by a 19-point rout of Wahkiakum to finish third in districts and a No. 7 ranking in the WIAA RPI.

“I’ll remember that for a long time,” Onalaska coach Wayne Nelson said. “We had our whole team together and finally got on a roll. I’ll remember that. That was really good basketball. I wish we would have played the state tournament the following Monday, because we were playing really well. Then we kind of lost our mojo.”

Following a loss to No. 2 St. George’s at regionals last weekend, the Loggers entered the state tournament as the final 2BCL boys team standing. They just couldn’t keep the run going any longer against a familiar foe in fellow District 4 squad Willapa Valley.

Onalaska fell behind early on a stretch of shooting woes. The Loggers briefly held a 3-2 lead then trailed the rest of the second half as Valley went into attack mode the remainder of the half with excursions into the paint. 

The Vikings broke off an 11-3 that spanned the end of the first and the start of the second to take a commanding 22-12 lead three minutes into the second quarter, capped by an inside foray by Chad Flemetis.

“Offensively we didn’t play great,” Nelson said. “I wasn’t very happy with our defensive effort tonight. We usually play pretty sound defensively.”

Carter Whitehead’s crafty layup and Danny Dalsted’s 3-pointer and two free throws kept the Loggers within striking distance for most of the second quarter until Logan Walker and Flemetis combined for three consecutive drives to the bucket to help the Vikings close the half on a 6-0 run. Walker ended with a game-high 21 points, while Flemetis chipped in 18 as an effective one-two punch.

It was more of the same in the second half as Valley quickly extended its lead to 16 before Whitehead’s jumper and Alex Frazier’s free throw cut it to 13 near the end of the third. It’s the closest the Loggers would get. Valley ripped off an 11-0 run at the beginning of the final frame to run away for good and put the finishing touches on the Loggers. The Vikings shot a scorching 54 percent from the field on 23 of 43 shooting. Ony was held to 32 percent shooting on 16 of 50 shots.

“Tonight we weren’t prepared enough,” Nelson said. “That’s my fault. Any time a team is not prepared it’s the coach’s fault. I’ll take the blame for this one. (Willapa Valley was obviously more prepared than we were.”

Willapa Valley (19-8) moves on to the double-elimination portion of the bracket to face top-ranked Liberty in the quarterfinals.

The Loggers end their season with an impressive 20-8 record, which included a perfect 10-0 record at home. Not a bad ending for a team that began the season with just five full practices after the football team went on a deep run into the playoffs to capture the state title.

One of the biggest changes this year was the transfer of 5-foot-10 dynamo point guard Carter Whitehead from Winlock, who turned into instant offense for the Loggers this season. He finished with a team-high 13 points against Valley.

Whitehead said the transfer made sense due to knowing fellow seniors Alex Frazier and Ashton Haight since they were little. It also helped that Onalaska athletic director and former boys basketball coach Dennis Bower welcomed Whitehead from the get-go. 

“It was a long process,” Whitehead said. “The team had me as a new player and then we had new coaches. Over time we started building chemistry and it just started to click. We started to peak at the right time. And it’s absolutely awesome we were able to get here, and be the only team that got here from the 2B Central.”

Five seniors played their final games for the Loggers: Whithead, Frazier, Haight, Brayden Martin and Cade Lawrence. Nelson said this group of seniors is one he won’t soon forget.

“I love all of them,” Nelson said. “Four of them play a lot and we got one guy that doesn’t play very much, Brayden Martin. I told him we had rule that if you’re not top-eight in the summer, you’re not going to play and I wouldn’t keep you on the team unless you had a great attitude. He did that. He came to practice every day, worked hard, never complained. Carter, Alex, Ashton and Cade, I enjoyed working with them. They’re great kids, easy to coach. I’ll remember them for a long time.”

At Spokane

VIKINGS 66, LOGGERS 47

Willapa Valley        15    15    17    19    —66

Onalaska        10    7    14    16    —47

    Willapa Valley (66) — Pearson 11, Walker 21, Flemetis 18, Buchanan 8, Densiton 6, Phansisay 2

    FG: 23 of 43 —.535 FT: 18 of 22 —.818 Reb. 34 (Buchanan 9)

    Onalaska (47) — Whitehead 13, Dalsted 8, Haight 10, Allison 6, Lawrence 3, Frazier 3, Readman 2, Pannkuk 2

    FG: 16 of 50 —.320 FT: 10 of 15 —.667 Reb. 24 (Allison 7)

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