Log in

Owls hold early lead, before being dealt opening-round defeat at Spokane Tournament

SPOKANE'S BO ESSICK looks for room around a couple Greenwood defenders Wednesday.
SPOKANE'S BO ESSICK looks for room around a couple Greenwood defenders Wednesday.

With this being the fifth anniversary week of Spokane winning its own tournament as a No. 7 seed, the Owls made a run at more tourney history Wednesday as a No. 8 seed trying to upset the No. 1 seed.

The Spokane Tournament annually brings out the best in the Owls and there they were up by six points midway through the second quarter on Greenwood.

It turned out to be only a fleeting moment of glory, as Spokane bowed to the Blue Jays 78-49 in first-round action.

A 24-18 Owls lead was followed up by a 28-2 run by Greenwood that covered the final four minutes of the second quarter and the first three minutes of the third quarter. Later, the turbo clock was in effect for a good portion of the fourth quater.

The Blue Jays’ move to a triangle-and-two defense late in the seond quarter played a big part in completely turning the game around.

“They played it right,” Owls guard Ricky Riott said of Greenwood’s defensive adjustment. “We had never went against a triangle and two. We were kind of like, ‘What are we doing?’ It made it tougher for me and Ethan (Newell) to shoot because they came out on us.”

“(Greenwood coach Darren Taylor) put two guys man-to-man on Ricky and Ethan and then had the triangle,” Spokane coach Newt Starrett said. “It took away shots from Ricky, who was hitting a bunch early. And, it took shots away from Ethan. It made our other guys have to work harder. I don't think they quite understand, yet, what their roles are if somebody does something like that. They have to understand what is happening within the game.

“We had wide-open look after wide-open look with guys who I trust taking shots,” he added. “I don't feel like we took bad shots. But none of them went in. We also had lots of turnovers, passing right to the white team instead of the gold team."

Starrett felt the Owls compounded their troubles by letting their offensive struggles have a direct effect on their intensity on defense.

“We couldn't buy a bucket for a while and once our shots didn't go in, we stopped playing defense,” he said. "We kind of hung our heads and quit playing defense.”

For the first 12 minutes, Spokane (4-11) played like a team motivated to show it deserved better than the eighth seed. Riott scored 14 of the Owls' first 24 points as they went up by six on Greenwood (15-1).

“I was feeling good and confident,” said Riott, who finished with 19 points. “We had a lot of energy. Everyone was excited and we were going good.”

Newell joined Riott in double figures with 12 points.

Spokane will have to go the consolation route to prove it should have been seeded higher. The tourney’s coaches voted the Owls behind No. 6 seed Reeds Spring (3-10), despite Spokane splitting two games with the Wolves and beating them 57-45 at Reeds Spring in their most recent matchup.

“Obviously, we wanted to be higher than the eight seed. But we hadn't helped ourselves out in that aspect,” Starrett said. “I feel like if we would have beat Crane (at the Blue & Gold Tournament) we’d be at least a six seed. That game is the one that sunk us.”

“I feel like we should have been seeded higher, at least over Reeds Spring since we beat them,” Riott said. “Not beating Crane, I can understand why we are the No. 8 seed. But it puts a little hurt on us because we know we're better than the eight seed.”

Wednesday’s other first-round games saw No. 2 seed Strafford down No. 7 Cassville 66-49, No. 3 seed Blue Eye edge Reeds Spring 48-45 and No. 4 Ash Grove whip No. 5 Southwest 77-47.