Toledo's fourth quarter comeback fell short Saturday night at WF West High School. Senior guard CJ Kovacs' free throws in the second half helped keep the number one seed Life Christian Academy Eagles from letting their 14 point lead mysteriously disappear, and two clutch steals by senior post Luke Lovelady diffused Toledo's final chances in the last minute to win or force overtime.
Toledo came into Saturday's game intent on playing the role of spoiler in a game that nobody except Indian fans saw coming. Three days after disposing of their league rival and previously undefeated Napavine Tigers by a 25 point margin, Toledo found themselves, once again, the underdog as they came out against the number two seed in the state, the Eagles.
While Toledo was attempting to win their first District Championship in basketball at the 2b level, the Eagles were going for their second in a row. They were heavily favored coming into the game since they had not had a game in Districts closer than 20 points, which includes their most recent victory of 26 points against a very good Adna team. Adna led in that game at half time by 2, but LCA woke up in the second half to go on a 20-2 run and put the game well out of reach.
The first quarter opened up with LCA looking interested and intense as they built up an 18-4 lead. Toledo competed hard, but looked a little nervous perhaps as they missed multiple shots in or around the rim that they normally would be expected to make. However, their nerves seemed to subside in the second quarter and they went into half time down 31-18, but having proved they could score against the much taller Eagles.
In the second half Toledo picked up the full-court intensity and their guards imposed their will on the Eagles for the duration of the quarter. Out of the gate they forced three turnovers that led to a Robles basket, a Fuentes bucket and 2 free throws for Robles that would have cut the lead down to 7. At the end of the third, Fuentes had back-to-back buckets, which cut the lead down to 1 point at 42-41 but they would get no closer. Lovelady and Kovacs always seemed to come up with an answer to hold off Toledo as they combined for 33 and went on to take their second district title.
Moving forward there is one Regional game that is determined by seeding which is based entirely on strength of schedule. Oddly enough this seeding was not affected very much by the outcome of Districts. Going into the championship game Toledo was seeded 8th in Regionals whether they won or lost and would get to go to Ellensburg to play the #1 seed in the state at the 2b level. They are then guaranteed at least one game at the State tournament in Spokane.
Life Christian was seeded 2nd, so win or lose they will get a home game possibly against Adna, and then move on to Spokane. Other teams from this region are Napavine and Adna, which are both seeded higher than Toledo at State and have more favorable schedules moving on. (Although Adna's schedule is only slightly more favorable depending on whom you ask!)
For final seeding and game times the 2bcentral website has the bracket for both men's and women's Regional and State games.