SNOHOMISH — In the closing seconds of regulation, Kamiak guard Carson Tuttle dropped in a long 3-pointer to send Saturday afternoon’s Class 4A District 1 semifinal game against Monroe to overtime.
Minutes later, and with his team again trailing by three points, Tuttle tried to repeat his heroics with another last-second 3-point attempt, this one from just inside the midcourt line. But this time the ball bounced off the rim, allowing Monroe to hold on for a thrilling 65-62 boys basketball OT victory at Snohomish High School.
The win, the Bearcats’ first in three tries against Kamiak this season, sends Monroe on to Thursday’s 8 p.m. district championship game at Everett Community College.
Though Tuttle’s last-second basket in regulation was potentially deflating for the Bearcats, “the resiliency of our kids right now is good,” said coach Tyson Horner. “We have some seniors and juniors, guys that were in the playoffs last year and have been in a lot of close games. (In basketball) great things happen and tough things happen, and you just kind of roll through and do the best you can.”
In the extra session, he said, Monroe’s players “showed a lot of maturity. … Our guys had already been in two overtime games and a lot of close games this year, so I felt they had some confidence going into it.”
Overtime, like almost all of regulation, was a back-and-forth affair. Tuttle, on his way to a game-high 30 points, scored first with a free throw and then dropped in a little runner from right of the key. But Monroe countered with four free throws over the next two minutes while forcing the Knights into a series of misses from the field.
Tuttle gave Kamiak a 62-61 lead with a pull-up jumper from left of the key with a minute remaining, but it was short-lived. Monroe’s Colby Kyle scored with an offensive rebound basket seconds later and the Knights ended up missing their final three attempts from the field.
Justin Folz swished two free throws with eight seconds on the clock, giving the Bearcats a three-point margin and setting up Tuttle’s final desperation try.
Knowing the ball would likely end up in Tuttle’s hands at the end, “we were talking about fouling … but being smart about that and not fouling a 3-point shooter,” Horner said. “But we ended up not fouling and just contesting (his shot), and thankfully we didn’t give up anything that was too wide open a look.”
Monroe had opened the district tournament on Friday night, pulling out a hard-fought 74-71 decision against Cascade. But there was little time to celebrate as the Bearcats had less than 24 hours to get ready for Kamiak.
“We didn’t even talk about (fatigue),” Horner said. “I really think sometimes it’s an advantage to get that first playoff game in, just to get the nerves out and the blood flowing. We were pretty confident our guys were going to be fine. … We did a walk-through (Saturday) morning and went over some film, and you could tell the guys were dialed in.”
With five days before the district title game, “we want to enjoy this,” he added. But as he looks ahead and evaluates his team’s prospects, “I don’t think we’ve peaked, to be honest. I do think we’re taking steps in the right direction. We’re getting better and have been playing better for the last couple of weeks. So hopefully the ceiling is still high.”
Senior guard Trenton Newhouse led Monroe with 26 points, including five 3-point baskets. Kyle, a junior center, had 12 points.
Kamiak moves to a loser-out consolation home game against Jackson at 7 p.m. Tuesday.