SPOKANE — The goal was always to be playing Saturday at the Spokane Arena.
At times this season, it didn’t look like those dreams would come true for the senior-led Toutle Lake Ducks.
At times Friday afternoon, hopes seemed slim too.
But Toutle Lake overcame a slow start and topped rival Toledo 49-45 in the 2B State boys’ basketball tournament. It pulled the season series to 2-2 between the Central 2B League rivals.
“We didn’t come out strong, but in the second half we got going,” TL junior Mike Adams said. “It makes us hungry every time we play them.”
The win secures TL (21-8) a spot in Saturday’s fourth-place game against Brewster (22-4), slated for 9:30 a.m. Toledo’s season ends at 22-7.
“We just just started slow. We were impatient offensively, took some poor shots and didn’t get stops on defense,” TL coach Eric Swanson said.
The Ducks started off in a 17-2 hole and trailed 17-6 after the first quarter. But slowly, the Ducks picked away at the lead and a Cam Swanson corner 3-pointer before the half made it 28-22 going into the lockers.
“We felt pretty good going into half after where we started from,” coach Swanson said. “I felt like we were just doing a good job of getting better shots.”
Swanson hit another corner 3-pointer to tie the game at 35-35 just before the end of third quarter. It was game on from there.
The Indians, who won the teams’ two regular-season meetings on their way to the Central 2B League title, fell 70-48 in district play to the Ducks. It was Toutle Lake’s chance to get even.
And Zach Vetter, who has had plenty of big moments on the baseball diamond, became the hero the Ducks needed on the hardwood.
He hit a wide-open 3-pointer with 3:59 to play to give the Ducks a 43-39 advantage.
That was quickly erased by a 3-pointer and Reece Wallace’s trip to the line for three freebies. Toledo led 45-43 with 2:45 to go.
Nate Hoff countered with a driving lay-in and Vetter had another chance to make his mark. And he didn’t miss it, drilling a 3-pointer to go up 48-45 with 1:44 to go.
“Huge. We needed a guy to step up,” said coach Swanson, who also highlighted Ryder Moss and Broc Keeton as standouts off the bench. “He came in and hit some big shots for us.”
A technical foul on Junior Arroyo gave Hoff one more point toward his 11 total and the Indians couldn’t score again. The Indians bid farewell to four seniors including Reece Wallace, who sits in the top six of Toledo’s scoring charts.
“He’s a basketball junkie for sure,” Toledo coach Grady Fallon said of his point guard. “These last few games I think he felt the end coming. It’s going to end sometime here. Maybe he wasn’t as relaxed as he wanted to be.”
Arroyo, who tallied seven rebounds, Dawson Marcil and Isaac Merly also graduate.
But the Ducks live to play another day and will take home their first trophy since 2012, when they finished third.
“This was our goal throughout the season,” coach Swanson said. “At times this season, that wasn’t looking very good. It’s nice when you get to that finish.”
Adams finished with 17 points Friday, Swanson added 13 and Hoff finished with 11 points and five steals.
Reece Wallace ended his career with 18 points and Brian Wood chipped in 10.