By Craig Craker Special to The Herald
KENNEWICK — The Edmonds Community College men’s basketball team’s dream season ended with a loss Tuesday.
The Tritons came up just short of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community College’s title, falling 84-79 to Chemeketa at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.
“It’s disappointing tonight, but we’ll look back on it with a lot of pride,” EdCC coach Kyle Gray said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our guys.”
The Tritons (26-4 overall) led 79-78 with just more than a minute to play after a 3-pointer by Tony Montano, but couldn’t hold off the Storm.
“It was just a couple of plays where we lapsed on defense and we missed a couple of free throws,” EdCC sophomore Ricardo Maxwell said. “Nobody was expecting it. We were the underdogs to even be at this point.”
The Tritons had three opportunities to take the lead or tie in the final minute, but failed to convert on all three trips.
Edmonds missed two layups while trailing 80-79, but forced a turnover to get the ball back.
Maxwell then missed a 3-pointer and Chemeketa’s Jordan Batey made two free throws on the other end to give the Storm an 82-79 lead.
Maxwell missed another 3-pointer and Batey iced the game for the Storm with two more free throws.
EdCC was playing in its first title game since 1993 and appeared to take control early in the second half thanks to a 14-2 run that put the Tritons ahead a 51-42 lead. But the Storm, which lost the title game to Tacoma CC in 2012, answered with a 10-0 run.
It was a see-saw battle from there with EdCC eventually taking its final lead thanks to a 7-0 run that erased a 78-72 deficit.
Montano made a free throw and Shaquille McKissic and Montano hit 3-pointers, but Chemeketa quickly responded with a layup from Jonny Howard to put the Storm on top for good.
“(Chemeketa) hit some big shots and we missed some free throws,” Gray said. “They are tough team to beat.”
Gray was in his first season with EdCC, coming to the Tritons after Seattle CC eliminated its basketball program following last season. He brought his coaching staff and a few players with him, completely overhauling the Tritons’ roster. They responded by going 23-3 in the regular season and winning the NWAACC’s north title.
The Tritons’ run continued at the tournament in Kennewick with three more wins, but the dream of a title vanished at the hands of the experienced Storm.
“We got some good looks at the basket, but they just didn’t fall our way,” Gray said of the final minute.
Maxwell and McKissic each scored 19 points to lead Edmonds, while Montano finished with 12. McKissic and Maxwell were named to the all-tournament first team. Everett CC’s Connor Donaldson, an Edmonds-Woodway grad, was also a first-team selection.
At Toyota Center
Chemeketa—Andrew Saba 8, Calvin Molan 13, Jordan Bately 16, Justin Hutt 2, Bradley Prazeau 2, Jacob Begin 9, Gavin Kauffman 4, Jonny Howard 9, Trevor Phillips 21. Edmonds C.C.—Tony Montano 12, Ricardo Maxwell 19, Stefan Johnson 4, Badhasa Margasa 0, Tony Peloquin 0, Joey Reavely 7, Jordan Diel 8, Jacob Spade 4, Destin Kawaka 6, Shaq McKissic 19. 3-point goals—Saba 2, Molan 3, Bately 1, Begin 1, Howard 1, Montano 1, Maxwell 4, Reavely 1, Diel 2, McKissic 2. Records—Chemeketa 21-8 overall. Edmonds C.C. 27-3.