SPOKANE — Every coach wants their team to play its best ball at the end of the season.
Toutle Lake’s boys’ basketball team did just that over the past three weeks.
After finishing fifth in the Central 2B League, the Ducks shocked everyone to advance to the district title game. Their run earned them a spot in the top eight of the WIAA’s RPI rankings and a place at the 2B State Tournament in Spokane.
There they added two more wins to their resume. So never mind that the Ducks (21-9) ended on a defeat — 57-41 to Brewster on Saturday — Toutle Lake’s sixth-place finish left coach Eric Swanson plenty pleased with this group.
“I’m proud of the effort. It’s been up and down. We’ve had some things — injuries, sickness,” TL coach Eric Swanson said. “But we battled through it and the kids have hung tough. We made huge strides at the end of the season.”
Unfortunately, the Ducks’ offense had spells of struggles throughout their time in Spokane and it cost them against Brewster. After going into the break 26-26, Toutle Lake shot 5 of 30 (16.7 percent) in the second half.
“We just couldn’t score, just could not get the ball in the net,” Swanson said. “Just little spells where we struggle offensively. I don’t know.”
The defense held up as long as it could but eventually the Bears broke away.
Nate Hoff paced the team with 14 points and six rebounds. Cam Swanson added seven points and Mike Adams, Logan Grabenhorst and Broc Keeton each chipped in five points.
“Mike was really good yesterday and they had a good game plan for him today,” coach Swanson said. “He didn’t get the same looks. When he was kicking it out, we just weren’t knocking down the shot.”
It’s the Ducks first trophy since 2012, when they finished third.
The team graduates five, including coaches’ kids Cam Swanson and Nate Hoff. Zach Vetter, Cam Jorgenson and Tobias Dye also depart.
“It was a special for those guys,” coach Swanson said. “It’s tough to see the end.”