By Aaron Swaney Herald Writer
MOUNT VERNON — Keanu Hamilton hit a layin with 5.6 seconds remaining for the game-deciding basket and the Tulalip Heritage boys basketball team beat Neah Bay 68-66 to secure its first-ever 1B Tri-District championship.
The win secures the No. 1 seed for the Hawks out of the tri-district and a date in next week’s regionals with a trip to Spokane on the line. Tulalip Heritage plays Wilbur-Creston at Everett Community College on either Friday or Saturday with time to be determined.
With the score tied at 66, Tulalip Heritage came out of a timeout with 22.6 seconds on the clock and gave the ball to Bradley Fryberg. After dribbling outside the 3-point line, Fryberg drove into the key and found a cutting Hamilton underneath the hoop. Hamilton corraled the pass and hit the layin to give the Hawks their first lead since losing it late in the third quarter. A desperation 3-pointer by Neah Bay bounced harmlessly off the rim, giving the Hawks the win.
“Keanu finds the open lane and he gets there. He’s amazing,” said Tulalip Heritage head coach Marlin Fryberg Jr. “The offense we run opens things up so when defenders are watching the ball our guys can slip backdoor.”
Hamilton’s basket capped a wild finish. Trailing by four with close to two minutes remaining, Tulalip got four key free throws from Bradley Fryberg and two defensive stops to tie the score. Robert Miles had a key steal of a Red Devils’ pass to set up the Hawks’ final possession.
The game was a matchup of the No. 1 and 3 ranked teams in 1B in the state, according to the latest Associated Press boys poll. Neah Bay, the top-ranked team, came out cold, going 0-for-6 from behind the arc and trailed 36-28 at halftime.
But the Red Devils outscored Tulalip Heritage 24-10 in the third quarter to take a six-point lead into the fourth quarter. The Hawks got a big 3-pointer from Shawn Sanchey and some key baskets from Brandon Jones and Hamilton to claw to within four points and set up the game’s wild finish.
“We knew there was going to be momentum swings,” Fryberg Jr. said. “It was unbelievable the effort they gave. They were pretty down after that third quarter; we got our tails kicked in the third quarter. I told them ‘We have to come back and get those points back and play extra hard defense.’”
At Mount Vernon Christian
Tulalip Heritage 21 15 10 12 — 68
Neah Bay 14 14 24 14 — 66
Tulalip Heritage—Brandon Jones 8, Bradley Fryberg 10 Robert Miles 2, Shawn Sanchey 18, Keanu Hamilton 16, Willy Enick 4, Ayrik Miranda 9. Neah Bay—Martinez 8, J. Greene 9, Z. Greene 7, Venske 19, Moss 7, Reamer 10, McCaulley 6. 3-point goals—Brandon Jones 2, Miranda, Sanchey 2, Enick, Moss, Reamer, McCaulley 2. Records—Tulalip Heritage 25-1 overall. Neah Bay 17-2.