Clover Park High had six practices to prepare to play without sophomore guard David Crisp, and it wasn’t until practice on Thursday when things finally began clicking for the Warriors.
Things clicked in a game setting, too.
The seventh-ranked Warriors shot 58 percent (28-of-48) and nailed five 3-pointers en route to their 71-55 victory over Mark Morris in a Class 2A regional game Friday night at Tumwater High.
Clover Park (21-5) will defend its state championship next weekend at the Yakima SunDome as one of the eight teams to advance to the 2A state tournament.
Ahmaad Rorie finished with a game-high 24 points and Dwayne Crawford chipped in 19 to lead the Warriors.
Crisp, a starting sophomore guard who averaged close to 20 points per game, broke his right foot in a 71-44 subdistrict win over Evergreen on Feb. 11, and hasn’t played since. The Warriors stumbled slightly in the 2A West Central District tournament, falling to White River in the semifinals before rebounding and earning the district’s third seed to regionals.
Clover Park coach Mel Ninnis said his team finally came together in its last practice before Friday’s regional game.
“We kept on believing and kept working and moved people around,” Ninnis said. “We were trying to mixed it up and feel comfortable to where they believed they can be successful.”
One of the changes has been 5-foot-7 guard Deshawn Johnson inserted into the starting lineup and serving as a high-post in the Warriors’ defense.
Clover Park put on a clinic in the first half, connecting on 18 of 28 first-half field goals and raced out to a 46-26 lead over the Monarchs, champions of the 2A Greater St. Helens League.
Mark Morris made a run of its own to start the second half. Senior guard Rem Bakamus’ 3-point with 1 minute, 45 seconds left in the third capped a 13-2 run by the Monarchs to pull within nine at 48-39. But Clover Park, led by Rorie countered that run with a 10 unanswered points of its own to grab the lead back to double digits 58-39 with 5:35 to play in the game. Bakamus finished with 13 points and Tanner Brill led the Monarchs with a team-best 14 points
Ninnis said there was motivation to get back to the SunDome to defend its state championship.
“When you get something taken away from you like a special play like David, and with all the success we had like season, that hunger is a little deeper. We wanted to get back to Yakima.”
— Meg Wochnick, staff writer