MILL CREEK – In big game situations you need your big players to step up.
The Cascade Bruins boys basketball team got that from its biggest player as 6-foot, 8-inch forward Marcus Guffey scored a season-high 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Bruins over the Edmonds-Woodway Warriors 48-43 Saturday night at Jackson High School.
With the victory Cascade (19-3 overall) advanced to the 4A District 1 championship game at 6 p.m. next Saturday against Snohomish at Jackson High School. The Bruins also earned their first state berth since 1999.
“It’s fabulous,” said Cascade coach Kevin Rohrich, referring to the state berth. “Three years ago we were 1-19 and to see the improvement this team has made has been very rewarding.”
Cascade, winners of 11 straight, entered the game averaging 66.2 points per game. But just as they did against offensively strong Marysville-Pilchuck on Wednesday, the Edmonds-Woodway Warriors were able to frustrate the Bruins with their defense.
Cascade leading scorer Mike Matson was held to nine points and Cascade’s shooters were 0-for-10 from behind the 3-point arc.
“I was very impressed with their defense. They played very hard and physical and didn’t allow us to get good shots,” Rohrich said.
Though the Warriors were able to contain Cascade on the perimeter, Guffey was causing E-W problems on the inside. Guffey scored 16 points in the first half, most coming on lay-ins after offensive rebounds.
The forward finished 10-for-13 from the field and was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
“Marcus has had a sensational year and he has matured a lot,” Rohrich said.
The senior’s biggest shot of the night, and possibly his high school career, came late in the fourth quarter after the Warriors had cut an eight point fourth quarter lead to one.
After a 10-3 run to begin the fourth quarter Edmonds-Woodway trailed Cascade 36-35.
A free throw by Bruins forward Chris Hilliard made it 37-35 and, after an E-W miss, Guffey hit a 15-footer to extend Cascade’s lead to 39-35 with two minutes remaining.
“That was a huge shot,” Rohrich said.
Hilliard hit a jump shot to make it a six-point lead and from then on out it was a free-throw shooting contest for the Bruins, as Cascade hit 7-of-9 from the line in the final minute of the game.
Despite the loss, Edmonds-Woodway head coach Rob McMains was optimistic considering his young team -loaded with sophomores and juniors – had just done battle against a ranked opponent. Cascade was ranked ninth in this week’s WashingtonPreps.com 4A poll.
The Warriors fought back from eight-point deficits in the first and third quarters and a 10-point second-quarter deficit.
“We played hard and played well. We can’t hang our heads,” McMains said.
The Warriors were led by junior forward Eric Greenwood’s 12 points and Casey Hamlett’s 10 points and nine rebounds.
Edmonds-Woodway (14-8) faces Meadowdale in a loser-out game at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Jackson.
At Jackson H.S.
Cascade-Matson 9, Hilliard 5, Guffey 26, Carter 8. Edmonds-Woodway-Ortiz 5, McCartney 2, Conti 3, Greenwood 12, Vaabene 5, Heard 5, Hamlett 10, Donaldson 1. 3-point goals-Vaabene 1, Greenwood 3, Ortiz 1, Heard 1. Records-Cascade 19-3 overall. Edmonds-Woodway 14-8.