Bittersweet weekend for Bear Creek: Boys' hopes crushed by Wahkiakum, girls make a date with state

Left: Kendall Engelstone drives to the hoop during the Lady Grizzlies
Left: Kendall Engelstone drives to the hoop during the Lady Grizzlies' 47-45 win over Toutle Lake on Saturday, sending the team to Spokane this weekend for the state tournament. Right: Sophomore guard Luke Blankenbeckler fires up a three pointer as the Grizzly bench watches. The boys lost in a heartbreaker to Wahkiakum, 47-46, ending their season.
— image credit: Photos courtesy of Sini Fernandez

The Bear Creek boys' basketball team lost a heartbreaker in their one-game Regionals round of the 2B state basketball tournament on Friday night at Mount Vernon High School, falling to Wahkiakum 47-46 and ending their season.

The Mules played a tough 3-2 zone defense that took away the Grizzlies' inside presence, leaving them to a disadvantage due to their opponent's size.

"They were big, they were physical," said Moe on Wahkiakum's team. "Honestly I felt like I did a poor job of preparing our team to attack the zone, and we didn't get the job done."

The Mules' defense stifled the Grizzlies in the first half, as Wahkiakum took a 26-17 advantage.

The Grizzlies clawed all the way back in the third quarter, scoring 19 to tie the score.

With the clock winding down and the score tied at 46-46, a foul was called on the Grizzlies, on a tip, which sent Wahkiakum to the free throw line.

After the Mules converted one of two to take a one-point lead with one second on the clock, senior Erik Domas hauled a pass to another senior, Lucas Fernandez, who was unable to get a shot off in time.

"We got the ball at the end of the game after being down 15 in the second quarter and came all the way back," Moe recalled. "We didn't get the job done."

Guard Luke Blankenbeckler led all scorers with 18 points, with Fernandez adding 16 in his final game in a Grizzly uniform.

For the season, Bear Creek finished with a 21-3 record, which included a 12-0 mark in Sea-Tac 2B league play.

Despite the season ending one week too soon, Moe is excited to bring back a fine group of juniors and sophomores from the deep talent pool at Bear Creek. But after graduating all-state caliber athletes in Fernandez and Domas, the sixth-year coach knows what lies ahead.

" If we want to get back to the level where we expect to be, the kids are going to have to work really hard," he said. "Our kids are pretty determined, and this loss is going to help fuel them, motivate them, inspire them to become the best they can be. We'll see how it shakes out."



The Grizzlies graduated a class of four seniors this year that each left a legacy in their own way on the program. Coach Moe took some time to reflect on his graduating class and what they have brought to the program.

Christopher Mehta: "Nobody knows the health issues that he has to deal with on a daily basis, from diabetes to stuff in his leg. He shows up, never complains, never goes 'boo.'"

Garrett Benson: "Mister perseverance. He never gives up, keeps coming back."

Erik Domas: "Mister coachability. He is so coachable, will do anything and everything that you ask of him."

Lucas Fernandez: "The beast, the ultimate warrior, a tough guy. I can't imagine coaching a team without team on my side."

Coach Moe: "It was a lot of fun to have those four guys in the program for four years, they're all good kids. It would have been fun if we could have extended it out one more week.  I don't think anyone was expecting to go home."



It was sweet redemption for the Lady Grizzlies' basketball team on Saturday night as they beat the team that ousted them from the postseason last year, Toutle Lake, 47-45, to make this weekend's state tournament in Spokane.

The berth is the program's first since 2007, when the Grizzlies went two-and-out.

Against Toutle Lake, Bear Creek used a balanced offensive attack, coming back from a five-point halftime deficit to take the lead in the third quarter and edge the Ducks.

Kristina Engelstone and her sister Kendall led the team with 12 and 10 points, respectively, with Nikki Peterson adding nine and Catherine Fernandez eight.

With the win, the girls (18-5) advance to the opening round of the eight-team 2B state tournament on Thursday against defending state champion Reardan (24-0) at Spokane Arena, tipoff at 9 a.m.

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