By Kristan Krogman
Fans got what they came for Thursday night in Wall where White River and Oelrichs faced one another for the Region 7B crown. The match-up marked the second straight year the two teams met in the championship. White River came in looking to extend their run of appearances at the State tourney. Oelrichs came looking to send a squad laden with seniors out with a bang.
Oelrichs came out with energy and led 5-0 to get their crowd going early on. White River had five turnovers in quarter one and never led through the first eight minutes. It was an exciting atmosphere with a standing room only crowd and two teams that laid it all on the line in an effort to advance. Oelrichs led by four after the first period.
Tavis Burbank was big for the Tigers in the first half and he opened scoring in the second with a steal and layup that made it 13-15. Moments later, though, it was Eriq Swiftwater for Oelrichs who capitalized on an and one to give his team a 20-13 lead. The first tie of the game came at 22-22 with a three by Tré Iyotte. Burbank had six in the final two minutes of the half, propelling the Tigers to a 28-25 lead at intermission.
Turnovers hampered both teams as the third quarter started. Though fouls began to mount for a short-benched Oelrichs, they kept things close with their ability to score easy points by finding the open man on the interior. They also hit a number of clutch threes, namely Jon Garnier, who finished with a game high 22 points. He hit a three with twenty eight seconds to go in the period to tie the game at 38. Justin Prue broke the tie at the buzzer with a jumper to return the lead to White River.
White River was deliberate in the half court throughout the game and as play continued they got the looks they hoped for. Justin Folkers had a strong second half for White River. He finished with 11 points, 8 rebounds, and took two charges. Link Tucker was also a key factor, especially on the defensive end, despite an ankle injury that left it unclear until late whether he would be available for the contest.
Oelrichs led only once in the second half, though the two teams were seldom separated by more than three points. Oelrichs suffered a significant loss when Swiftwater fouled out with 4:02 to go. The score at that point was 48-45. Oelrichs tied it at 48 less than a minute later before White River took over down the stretch. They went 12/14 from the free throw line (9/10 by Iyotte) in the final three minutes and Oelrichs was unable to counter. The Tigers posted the win, 60-50 in a game that was closer than the final score indicated.
White River 11 28 40 63
- 15 25 38 52
Stats: Tavis Burbank 14 pts, 5 rebs, 1 assist, 2 steals; Justin Prue 8 pts, 1 steal; Tre Iyotte 19 pts, 5 rebounds, 4 steals; Christian Bartlett 4 pts, 7 rebs, 1 assist; Justin Folkers 11 pts, 8 rebs, 1 steal, 2 charges; Bubba Young 2 pts, 1 steal; Link Tucker 5 pts, 10 rebs, 3 assists, 1 block
Oelrichs was led by Eriq Swiftwater with 11 pts, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists and Jon Garnier with 22 pts, 6 rebs, and 2 assists.
White River shot 50% from the field (1/5 threes) and 83% (24/29) from the free throw line. Oelrichs was 20/59 from the field (6/22 threes) and went 6/9 from the free throw line.
The Tigers had 34 rebounds (9 offensive) and 6 assists; Oelrichs had 36 rebounds (16 offensive) and 13 assists. White River committed 21 turnovers to 17 for Oelrichs.