Cheney Free Press -

By PAUL DELANEY
Staff Reporter 

Cardinals halt skid, hope for rebound in playoffs

 


See a photo gallery from the event here.

The Medical Lake boy’s basketball team rustled up the right time to end a late-season slide.

The Cardinals scored a tense 72-69 win in overtime over Colville Feb. 2 at home on senior night that put a halt to a three-game losing streak and solidified a No. 3 seed in the district playoffs. Earlier last week Medical Lake fell 67-57 at Lakeside.

Now Medical Lake (13-7), who just 20 days ago was challenging Freeman for the Northeast A League regular season championship, open play versus No. 6 seeded Chewelah (8-11) this past Wednesday at home in a loser-out game. A win gets Medical Lake to the next round, a Friday, Feb. 10 contest at West Valley versus No. 2 seed Newport (13-7) at 7:30 p.m.

Last Thursday’s game featured two teams with a great deal on the line. Medical Lake was hoping to get back on track after a solid start where they had won 11 of 14 games to start the season. Colville (5-15) was playing just to nab a playoff berth.

“The funny thing, if Colville wins that game, they’re in so they were playing literally for their lives,” Cardinals’ head coach Noel Hachtel said.

And on the back of diminutive 5-foot, 8-inch senior guard, Alberto Cisneros, Colville did its best to complete that chore. Cisneros scored 35 points. “He just couldn’t miss anything,” Hachtel said. “He put Colville on his back.”

But Medical Lake had its seniors who countered Cisneros, those being Trenten Garza who hit for 24 points, and Nizhole Sherman adding 19. Joey Jasmer had 10 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double.

During the time they lost three of the last four outings by just six points — with a lot of trouble at the free throw line — against Colville, Medical Lake was nearly flawless from the stripe.

“You know Trent (Garza), I think he’s our best free throw shooter, he was 10 for 13 at the free throw line so we just figured we’d keep the ball in his hands and let them foul us,” Hachtel said. Garza was a perfect 6 for 6 in overtime.

“He and Nizhole kind of made the difference,” he added.

While seniors stole plenty of the spotlight, it was freshman Nick Mason who flew big below the radar. “We don’t win that game without him,” Hachtel said of Mason who scored six points, but also did work on the boards. His rebound of a missed Colville free throw with just 3 seconds to play kept Colville, specifically Cisneros, from another shot.

Colville, which was out rebounded big, 44-21, was limited to just four offensive rebounds with Mason playing a key role.

At Lakeside, and unlike many previous games, Medical Lake started strong. ”It seemed like we couldn’t miss a shot in the first quarter,” Hachtel said. Leading 16-13 after a quarter, the Cardinals gave up 20 and 21 points in the next two quarters and could not make up the ground trailing 54-42 going into the fourth.

Lakeside forced Medical Lake into shooting from outside where they did not do well. Converting a few more higher percentage shots inside and “It’s a different game,” Hachtel said. Sherman’s 18 points led the Cardinals with Garza adding 12 and Xavier Warmink-Butler adding 10.

Facing Chewelah in that opening round, Hachtel said, “We’re hoping to right some wrongs,” referring to a 47-45 home loss on Jan. 20 that began the slide.

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

See a photo gallery from the event here.

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