By Bucky Beaver
The 15-7 Ballard High School boys basketball team traveled to Inglemoor High School last night for their first Kingco Conference playoff game. The Beaver fans were in for an exciting evening. The game was back and forth in the first half with Ballard up three with 1:30 left in the half. Ballard then exploded on a 10-0 run to end the half on threes by senior Ray Owens and junior Darius George, a bucket by senior Seth Berger, and two free throws by senior Nate Rauda. Ballard went into the locker room with a 27-14 halftime lead. Ballard came out flat in the third quarter managing only 8 points while allowing 22—Inglemoor led 36-35 after three quarters. Inglemoor continued to roll in the first five minutes of the 4th quarter.
With three minutes left in the game the Beavers were down 45-40 and needed to mount their final push. Senior Johnny Verduin drained a 3-point shot on the assist from Owens to get the comeback started. Berger added another jump shot to tie the game at 45. After Inglemoor converted to go up two, Owens to Verduin connected again to tie the game. Berger answered Inglemoor’s two with a jump shot to tie it again. With 1 minute left Owens deflected a pass allowing Rauda to get the steal. Owens got the ball back and took it strong to the basket, making the shot, getting fouled, and converting the free throw.
Ballard was up 52-49 with 17 seconds to go. Inglemoor forced a shot and Rauda got the rebound and got fouled. Rauda stepped to the line for the bonus and coolly made them both. Ballard then fouled Inglemoor on a 3-point attempt and Inglemoor converted all three free throws. Ballard was up two with six seconds to go. On the inbounds Berger got fouled and made one of two free throws to ice the game. Ballard won 55-52.
Ballard next plays Friday at 6:30 pm at Juanita High School against the #1 team in state, Garfield. The winner of this game advances to the Kingco championship game and gets a pass to the state tournament. The loser has to work their way through the consolation bracket in hopes of making it to state.