The Toledo High School boys basketball team has returned home with a first-ever state championship trophy after dominating King’s Academy, of Seattle, 38-27 Saturday at the WIAA State Tournament in Yakima.
The Indians placed second in the A1-level tournament in 2007, falling to Brewster in the final round, and were fourth last year when they were defeated by Zillah in the first round.
Toledo senior Brennan Rakoz was named the tournament MVP after averaging 16.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Austin Trafelet made the tournament first team, averaging 11.6 points a game, while the hot-shooting Brent Wood was added to the second team after averaging 9.3 points per game.
“Ever since I first touched a basketball, my dream was to win the state championship and get that golden ball," said Rakoz. "Well my dream has come true and I wouldn't want to change my teammates or coaches for anyone in the world.”
The Indians had a few troubles during their three games of the tournament, mainly in the first half. On Thursday, the Bulldogs of Okanogan had Toledo within their sights, shooting 41% during the first half, and it took a miracle shot by Grant McEwen to bring the Indians to a slim 31-30 lead going into the break. After the halftime however, it was all Indians. The Toledo defense forced the Bulldog shooting to just 14% and 13 points all throughout the second half.
In the meantime, Toledo made teamwork part of the offensive story too. No fewer than four players scored in double figures. Leading the way was Rakoz with 16, but Trafelet and Wood both added 14 while McEwen added 12 points.
On Friday night, the route was similar, but the result was the same as the Indians fell behind 8-1 initially, fighting back to tie 22-22 at halftime against Cedar Park Christian before defeating them 46-39. Defense again won the day as Cedar Park failed to even score during the third quarter.
With just 2:51 to go in the game, Cedar Park climbed to within four after Toledo had claimed a lead by as much as 13 points. Trafelet grabbed an offensive rebound and willed it in the bucket with 50 seconds to go and the Indians went up by six. The boys in white hit 3 of 4 free throws to ice the game and move into the championship contest. Rakoz had 19 points while Trafelet added 11 more.
Saturday saw yet another frustrating first half and an opposing defense equal to that of the Indians. This time the Indian offense sputtered, but if the opposing team can't score, it is a pretty simple formula for success. Toledo led at halftime 16-14 and extended that lead for a 38-27 victory that brought home Toledo's first-ever state title in basketball.
Again it was the dual headed monster of Rakoz and Trafelet that scored 14 and 10 points, respectively. Rakoz also grabbed 10 rebounds.
"It is really something indescribable," said senior Lakota Rakoz. "This is something we have talked about since the very first day in practice and have always said ‘ship’ (short for championship at the end of a team huddle) on three. It definitely is a surreal feeling to know that we are actually the champions now."
"It's the most wonderful feeling in the world," said Senior Skyler Muyskens, who consistently contributes on defense. “Ever since I was 12, I've always thought about winning the state championship.”
It was that famously frustrating defense that won the game, or games. It may be the same ol' game in Toledo, but repeated trips to Yakima have proved its success.
"Our defense was amazing," said Brennan Rakoz. "They (Cedar Park Christian) didn't score for about 14-16 minutes at one point."
Now the thought has to be towards the future. The Indians will graduate seven seniors and didn't even have a junior on its roster this season. That means Wood and McEwen will carry the drive for a repeat of this performance.
"You know, playing at this level is tough, and were losing seven seniors," says McEwen. "Two are complete studs, (Brennan Rakoz, and Trafelet). We aren't going to be able to replace those guys.
For the moment, next year is immaterial. Now is the time for the boys of Toledo basketball to celebrate the first state title along with their entire proud community.
Toledo Scoring vs. Okanogan – Brent Wood 14, Brennan Rakoz 16, Blake Wood 2, Austn Trafelet 14, Grant McEwen 12.
Toledo Scoring vs. Cedar Park Christian – Brent Wood 9, Brennan Rakoz 19, Blake Wood 3, Austin Trafelet 11, Grant McEwen 4.
Toledo Scoring vs. King's Academy – Brent Wood 4, Brennan Rakoz 14, Blake Wood 3, Austin Trafelet 10, Grant McEwen 3, Lakota Rakoz 3.