Things got chippy for the Kelso men’s basketball team in their first West Central/Southwest 3A Bi-District playoff game, but they still managed to dominate the Peninsula Seahawks at home, 68-46.
Forward Shaw Anderson was a major factor for the Hilanders (17-4), scoring 28 points primarily from battles in the paint. Anderson said he was prepared for the Seahawks (11-8) throwing everything they had at him physically.
“We knew coming in that they were going to try and bully us,” he said. “They’re not going to do that at (Kelso), so we tried to bring it to them.”
Kelso Coach Joe Kinch said Anderson might have played with some intensity tonight in an attempt to rebound from the team’s loss to Prairie last week.
“We were all disappointed with Friday’s outcome at Prairie, (but) we licked our wounds and Shaw came back,” he said. “I thought he had a little bit more fire in his eye, but he’s been great all year.”
Anderson was named co-MVP of the Greater St. Helens 3A League on Tuesday.
Although he started off the night quietly, Kelso forward Riley Noah exploded in the second half, earning 13 of his 15 total points in the third and fourth quarters.
The Hilanders managed to easily pull away from the Seahawks despite stingy defense from the Gig Harbor-area team. Even when down by 21 late in the fourth quarter, Peninsula continued to use a full court press.
At one point near the game’s end, Peninsula guard Jared Brinkman sprinted all the way down the court and nearly tackled Kelso forward Peyton Noah just to prevent an easy layup for the Hilanders.
The next matchup for Kelso will be Saturday afternoon against the Wilson Rams in Puyallup, which might give the Tacoma high school more of a home-court advantage.
However, Anderson said he and his teammates weren’t worried about playing in the Puget Sound.
“We’re not nervous,” he said. “We’re probably more excited for it than anything, but we just want to play.”
Kinch echoed his player’s confidence, saying the Kelso faithful should hopefully travel well.
“We have a certain routine that we do on the road, and we’ll follow that routine, and I’m sure we’ll have a nice contingent of fans,” he said. “Obviously, the energy here was special tonight, but when you’re playing in the winter in a state game, we should have plenty of energy to get it done.”
If Kelso can beat Wilson, they will be guaranteed a top-six spot in this District tournament, sending them to Regionals, something Kelso hasn’t done since 1996.