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Ams Coming Together

What has gotten into the Tri City Americans?  A team that clinched a wild card playoff birth in the final few games.  The Ams have won 8 straight playoffs games sweeping the top team in U.S. Division the Kelowna Rockets, and then also dominating the Victoria Royals in four straight contests.  The fact that the Americans have made the Conference Finals probably isn’t the most surprising part, but the dominating fashion in which they are doing it.  They opened up with a 5-0 win against the Kelowna rockets in route to the series sweep.  Against Victoria, they put up a 7-0 game 1, 4-1 game 2, and up 5-0 in the third period of game 3 before the Royals put up some last minute goals.

Have they recruited some NHL players to help them out?  Not quite, but some of their players are playing out of their mind, and are definitely catching the eyes of teams around the nation. Michael Rasmussen has done typical Rasmussen things with 10 goals and is finding other players with 14 assists.  Having the other weapons has been huge, others converting has taken the pressure of him and allows him to get more space and moves the defense over to the other shooters.  After missing almost half of the games during the regular season, having him healthy has been huge.  Michael put up a hat trick in game 2 against Victoria in a 4-1 win on the road that gave the Americans a commanding 2-0 lead in the series coming back to the Toyota Center.  In game 3 he put up 4 points to help put the series out of reach for the Royals.

The resurgence of Morgan Geekie has been an unexpected advantage for the Ams.  After scoring 30 goals in 68 games during the season, Geekie has netted 15 goals in the 8 playoffs games leading the WHL along with 9 assists.  He has been on fire, in game 3 against Victoria, Geekie had a hat trick along with Rasmussen’s 4 points in their 6-5 win.  Defenseman Jake Been has added 13 assists to really help speed the game up and put the defense on their heals.

The Ams power play has also improved, scoring on only twenty-five percent during the season and scoring and nearly fifty percent during the playoffs.  What lies ahead for the Ams is the U.S. Division champ Everett Silvertips.  Ams have dropped 6 of 9 gams to the Silvertips so they are going have to continue their offensive onslaught.  Game 1 will be in Everett this Friday.


Zags Escape

The Gonzaga Bulldogs came into Thursday’s matchup against UNC Greensboro as a heavy favorite to beat the Spartans, but the Zags got all they could handle.  After having control for much of the game the Zags lost the lead with under 2 minutes to play, but Zach Norvell Jr. was able to ice the game with a late three and the zags escaped 68-64.

After making it all the way to the National Championship a year ago before falling short to North Carolina, the Zags have some young new faces and are looking to make a run deep into the tournament.  They started their road in Boise with an arena full of Gonzaga fans, but it took a some time in the early going for them to get into their flow.  Gonzaga went on a 9-2 run to end the half and give the Zags some comfort with a 32-23 lead.

The Spartans had some fight left in the 2nd half, Zags held a 46-36 lead with just under 15 minutes to go in the game before UNC Greeensboro made their run.  The Spartans chipped away at the lead of the bulldogs lead throughout the 2nd half.  UNC Greensboro tied the game at 58 with 4:55 to go when Demetrius Troy buried a jumper.  Troy tied it again at 62, then after two successful free throws by Norvell Jr, Jordy Kurpier gave the Spartans the lead 64-62 with 1:49 to play.

The tension built in Taco Bell Arena, as the Zags were looking to avoid the huge upset.  Josh Perkins shook a defender and buried the jumper at the top of the key to tie the game at 64.  The next Gonzaga possession, Zach Norvell Jr. put the Bulldogs up for good with a 3 pointer from the wing with 23 seconds remaining.  With 13 seconds to go Marvin Smith from UNC Greensboro saw his tying 3 pointer spin out and the Zags held on and avioid the 13 vs. 4 scare in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.   We feel very fortunate to advance and to win, but at the same time I’m proud of how my guys just hung with it,” Head Coach Mark Few said following the game.

The Zags face Ohio State on Saturday who they beat in the PK80 tournament by 27, so they are looking to have the same kind of output they  had back in November.  Gonzaga is the only team in the last ten years to have ten straight first round wins in the NCAA tournament. 


Braves take 4th at State

The Kamiakin Braves ended their state run with a 57-45 win over Seattle Prep for the second time in a week to claim 4th place at state. 

The Lady Braves lost to Garfield at the buzzer who plays later on for the state title, and they showed exactly why they are one of the best teams in the state, thoroughly dominating Seattle Prep.  Oumou Toure put up 19 points and pulled down 16 boards to lead Kamiakin while Alexa Hazel added 16 points to help the Braves to the victory.  Kamiakin played this same Seattle Prep team a week ago at Chiawana and used a big second half to secure the win.   Similar to that game, Kamiakin led 29-27 at the end of the first half, and used a 12 to 5 3rd quarter to help propel the Lady Braves.  Coach Lane Schumacher was able to get his seniors some minutes down the stretch when the game was in hand.  “Good to get everyone in the game.  Another great year, that’s pretty solid,” Schumacher said.

The Braves return most of the team next year and are poised to make a run again.  They have placed each of the last three years at state.


Kamiakin 57- Toure 6-17 19, Clark 6-11 14, Hazel 4-10 9, Scherbarth 1-2 6, C. Williams 2-7 4, Kutschkau 2, Mercado 2, J Williams 1


Seattle Prep 45- Stricklin 4-6 13, Franklin 5-14 11, Moffitt 4-9 9, Sauvage 2-9  6, Petro 0-8 3,Russell, 1-2 2, Frigon 1


Braves Cruise Past Top Seed Lincoln

Alexa Hazel used an 8 for 12 second half to propel the Braves over top seeded Lincoln 57-49.  Coming of a devastating buzzer beater loss Thursday against Garfield, the Braves were able to come together and dominate Lincoln in the 2nd half.

In a first half that saw Kamiakin hold a  22-21 lead, the 2nd half was much more up tempo thanks to 19 points from Junior Alexa Hazel.  Hazel had a woeful 1st half going just 1-10 from the field with 4 points.   She turned a switch in the 2nd half.  Hazel made 3 consecutive 3 pointers to help the braves take a 7 point lead going into the 4th.  The Braves seemed to come together as a team and control the tempo of the game.  “We got some nice transition buckets just beating them down the floor,” Head Coach Lane Schumacher said.  The Braves led 47-36 midway through the 4th before Lincoln started to mount a comeback and pulled within 6.  Alexa Hazel again came to her team’s rescue capitalizing on 2 turnovers and finishing two lay-ins at the other end to put the Braves in the lead for good.  “Seeing it go in kind of starts the engine, so it was good to see that,” Hazel said.

Oumou Toure added 20 points and 10 rebounds to Hazel’s 21 point effort.  The Braves will face Seattle Prep in a rematch of last week’s regional game that Kamiakin won for 4th or 6th place.  Seattle Prep used got off to and 18-2 lead in that game before the Braves made a rally and dominated the 2nd half.



Kamiakin 57- Hazel 9-22 21, Toure 8-17 20, Clark 3-7 7, C. Williams 3-6 6, Clark 1-5 2, Scherbarth 0-2 1                        

Lincoln 49- Brantley 6-13 16, Johnson 4-11 9, Montgomery 3-7 9, Wyatt 2-8 5, Donahue 1-3 5, Mcafee 0-1 3, Frazier 1-1 2


Kamiakin Loses a Heart Breaker, Richland Rolls

The Kamiakin girls came into Tacoma looking to take the state title home to Kennewick, but a Garfield buzzer beater sent those hopes crashing down.  The 3 seeded Garfield Bulldogs took down the Kamiakin Braves 47-44 in heartbreaking fashion.

Alexa Hazel and Oumou Toure led the Braves with 15 points.  Toure also pulled down 14 rebounds and 5 steals to get the braves back in the game.  The Braves Trailed the Bulldogs 37-31 after 3 quarters.  Braves made a run in the final minutes of the game thanks to an Alexa Hazel steal and lay in to cut the lead to 3 points at 40-37 with just over 2 minutes to play.  Soon after, Hazel hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 41.

After Garfield’s Dalayan Daniels hit one of two free throws to give the Bulldogs a 44-42 lead with 27 seconds remaining, Alexa hazel tied it with a lay in with just under ten seconds to play.  Garfield inbounded the ball from the baseline and found Jayla Howard on the wing who buried the 3 pointer as time expired.

This was the same Garfield team that the Braves knocked out of regional’s last season at home. The Kamiakin braves must regroup Friday at 12:15 as they face a very athletic team in Lincoln who lost to Stanwood.


Kamiakin- Hazel 6-20 15, Toure 4-16 15, Clark 3-6 6, Clark 2-9 4, C. Williams, 1-2 2

Garfield- Daniels 3-9 10, Tolliver 4-14 10, Mobley 4-8 10, Henley 4-12 9, Brundidge 2-4 4, Howard 1-2 3


The Richland Bombers made easy work of the Kamiak Knights on Thursday as they use a big 2nd quarter to help bury the Knights 72-42.

Cole Northrop helped take the pressure of Riley Sorn as he put up 22 points on 8 of 15 shooting.   Ryan Wager also added 13 along with Sorn’s 13.  The Bombers proved to be too much for the 14th  seeded nights as their title run came to an end from a Bombers team who looked every bit the heavy favorite.

Last year the Bombers came in as a young team who was still finding themselves, this year they have been on a mission from the beginning, beating all but one team in their path.  That one team is the Gonzaga Bulldogs who they face tomorrow at 7:15 to go to the Championship game.  The Bombers lost 3 times last year to the Bulldogs including the last game at state to give the bombers a fifth place finish.  Richland lost to Gonzaga 2 weeks ago by 5 points and many people feel that they weren’t on top of their game.


Richland- Northrup 8-15 22, Wagar 5-10 13, Sorn 5-7 13, Streufert 4-9 8, Guice 2-2 4, Mitchell 2-4 4, Sanderson 0-5 4, McCollough 1-1 2, Obermeyer 1-1 2            

Kamiak 42-  Tuttle 4-20 14, Meyer 4-7 9, Sharpe 2-6 6, Bueing 1-5 4, Olson 1-3 3,  Fitzpatrick 1-4 2, Leary 0-3 2, Wuttke 1-4 2                                                                       


Huskies Win 5th Straight Apple Cup

Luke Falk threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in rout to the Cougs 41-14 beating in the Apple Cup Saturday.  This was Luke Falk’s final meeting against the Huskies, and he has been on the wrong side of a lopsided affair each time.  Falk has never been able to get over the hump, and the Huskies seem to have their way on the ground each year as they put up 328 yards rushing Saturday.  This was a game that could have lifted the Cougs to their first ever Pac-12 Championship, but the door to that closed quickly as the Huskies made their presence felt early.

The Huskies used their first drive to march down the field in 11 pays and get seven points on the board to really set the tone to how this game was going to go.  Luke Falk has been a question mark this season and was benched twice, once again Boise State, and another against Arizona.  The big question coming into the game was how long Mike Leach would take to pull Falk if the offense wasn’t moving the ball.  The answer was not at all.  No matter what happened, even after his third interception, Leach stuck with the guy that has helped them succeed this year, but for the Cougars sake things snowballed and didn’t improve throughout the contest.  When asked if Leach thought about putting Hilinski in he responded, “Not really, statistically the best Pac-12 quarterback in history, and sometimes you gotta just fight through it.”

The Cougs defense held the Huskies in check in the first quarter after the first touchdown, but the offense was only able to muster up 2 first downs and didn’t give the defense much time to rest.  The defense began to get tired and the Husky run game took over in the 2nd.  Following a Falk fumble at the Cougar 28 yard line, Salvon Ahmed ran the ball 27 yards to the 1 yard line and quarterback Jake Browning punched it in.  The Huskies held a 24-0 lead at half time and just cruised after that to their fifth straight Apple Cup win.  “I think this is a really good team, where you gotta play good and play together in order to beat ‘em.”

The WSU offense just never caught their stride and Falk for some reason cannot seem to shake this funk he has been in this season.  He was an early Heisman Candidate, but the things that made him so successful the past two years like spreading the ball all over the field and utilizing his weapons have not been as prevalent this year.  Instead, a lot of check downs and holding the ball too long which as the year went on, led to an obvious lack of confidence.  It doesn’t help to get bench, but Leach said that he benched him in the Arizona game because he couldn’t see the field.  Backup Tyler Hilinski came in for two quarters and threw for 504 yards because of his quick release and ability to move the ball up field.  The counter to that, is that Hilinski also threw 4 interceptions which severely hurt the Cougars cause.  “Luke said on his performance, when you turn the ball over four times, it’s a bad night.”

The other question coming into the game was whether Coach Mike Leach will be here next year because former athletic director Bill Moos who left mid-season went to Nebraska and the rumor has been that Mike Leach may follow him after head coach Mike Riley was let go.   After the game, Leach denied the rumors, but the post-game press conference seemed to be un-Leach like.  The anger he usually has after and a loss that he knows was a disappointment wasn’t there.  He alluded to the fact that his team was capable of beating the Huskies, but just not the type of press conference I am used to hearing after a disappointing loss under Mike Leach.  The next few weeks will be telling to see if he takes the Nebraska job or not.

The Cougs look to be a lock for the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl in Santa Clara.  Early projections show them playing against the 8th place team in the Big Ten, the Purdue Boilermakers(6-6).





Cougs Get a Win in Utah

The Cougs needed their 2nd road victory of the year to keep their Pac-12 Conference Championship hopes alive.  They traveled to Rice Eccles Stadium on Saturday to face the 5-4 Utah Utes in Salt Lake City.

The Coug defense didn’t disappoint, pressuring Utes quarterback Tyler Huntley all day forcing 7 sacks and 7 turnovers on the way to a 33-25 win.  The Cougs intercepted Huntley’s  Hail Mary attempt at the end of the game to get the win.

The defense got started early and often.  Early in the first Huntley connected with receiver Demari Simpkins for a 17 yard gain, but Robert Taylor knocked the ball loose, and the Cougs were in business at the Utah 46 yard line.  A few plays later, Falk found Tavares Martin Junior for an 11 yard touchdown completion and an early 7-0 lead.

A theme for the Cougar offense this season has been inconsistency.  The Cougs the past couple years had huge successes in the red zone, but this year has been a different story.  The Cougs stalled inside the 30 yard line three times in the first half alone, and got great field position for much of the first half thanks to three turnovers forced by the defense.

The Cougar offense was held to just 338 yards of total offense coming from 311 yards through the air, and only 27 yards on the ground.   Utah is known for their defense and held the Cougs to 10 of 21 on third down conversions.  Wazzu had opportunities and were moving the ball, just couldn’t convert on 3rd and short numerous times. 

Early in the 4th,  after a Utah fumble on their own 14 yard line, Falk connected with Isiah Johnson-Mack in the end zone to give the Cougs  a 33-18 lead.  That touchdown pass game Falk the Pac-12 record for most touchdown passes surpassing USC’s Matt Barkley. 

Utah was able to strike back and had a chance to tie the game with a hail mary as time expired, but Jalen Thompson intercepted it and secured the victory for the Cougars.

The Cougs are 9-2 and will be facing the two loss Huskies in the Apple Cup on November 25th.  The Cougs defensively have been as good as they have been in 15 years, but offensively the Cougs need to figure it out before they face the Husky defense in Seattle.  When the offense gets too stagnant, Leach has no problem pulling Luke for Hilinski.  Falk is looking for his first Apple Cup win in 3 attempts, and ending the 4 game Husky win streak. 

The Cougs push the ball more when they need to then consistently throughout the game and they are going to need to in order to help their defense.  For the second straight year, the Apple Cup is going to decide the winner of the Pac-12 North.




Cougs Win Last Home Game

In Luke Falk’s last game as a home game as a Coug, he passed for 337 yards including 3 touchdowns and set the Pac 12 record for yards in a career as the Cougs get by the 17th ranked  Stanford Cardinal 24-21.

A snow storm hit Pullman right before game time and continued throughout the game.  It was a cold day so Stanford tried to utilize their Heisman hopeful Bryce Love, who missed last week’s game with a high ankle sprain.  To start the 2nd quarter, Love reeled off a 52 yard run to give the Cardinal a 7-0 lead. 

After getting pulled last week because of low offensive production, Falk completed a 9 play 75 yard drive with a 12 yard touchdown pass to Tavares Martin Jr. in the middle of the end zone to tie the game at 7.  The next drive, Falk connected with Renard Bell from 27 yards out to give the Cougs a 14-7 lead at half time.

The Cougar defense held Bryce Love to 69 yard total on 16 carries.  After the big run, they only allowed 17 yards from Love and tackled him for a loss 6 times including one tackle in the 3rd where Love hobbled off the field after Hercules Mata’afa leveled him.  After a 41 yard Erik Powell field goal, Stanford’s quarterback K.J. Costello pump faked, the ball slipped out of his hand, bounced back to him and ran 14 yards for the touchdown.  It appeared in the replay to the WSU fans that it was incomplete, but after review the referee ruled that he was bringing the ball into his body and ruled it a touchdown.

On the next Cougar possession, Falk was looking to complete a fourth and one from their own 48, but Stanford linebacker Bobby Okereke Intercepted the pass and took it back 52 yards to get the Cardinal the lead 21-17.  After that score, the air was taken out of Martin Stadium and the Cougs needed a score to get back in this one.

Early in the 4th, Falk put together an 11 play, 95 yard touchdown drive that took up over 5 minutes.  Falk found Jamire Calvin who scampered 11 yards for the touchdown and gave the Cougs the lead for good.  In the final minute of the game, Costello was intercepted by Frankie Luvu to wrap up the victory for the Cougs.

The Cougs held the Stanford offense to only 198 yards of total offense, 52 of that coming from the one run in the first half.  The Cougs defense gave up over 300 on the ground last week against Arizona, and really clamped down Saturday. “Thought our defense played really well, mitigating their run game,” Leach said.


WSU sits at 8-2 and have 2 more games remaining. Next week at Utah and in 3 weeks in the Apple Cup against the Huskies.


WSU Loses Big

The Washington State Cougars came into Friday night’s game looking to run the table the rest of the season, but the California Golden Bears had other ideas.  The Cougs were outplayed and gave up seven turnovers against a Cal team on a three game losing streak and were looking for a big win to turn their season around.  Bothell native Ross bowers who beat Chiawana in the state Championship 3 years ago threw for 259 yards and one touchdown, as well as ran for another and his Golden Bears thrashed the eighth ranked Cougars 37-3. 

The game started out strange, and continued that way all night.  On the opening kickoff of the game, freshman receiver Renard Bell took the opening kickoff to the endzone but was nullified by a holding penalty.  Three plays later, Falk was intercepted by Camryn Bynum at the Cougar 20 yard line. On their second possession, the Pac-12 player of the week Erik Powell who made four field goals against Oregon, missed a 49 yard field goal.  In their third possession, on the opening play of the drive, Falk connected with Jamire Calvin for a ten yard gain who then fumbled the ball and Cal’s Devante Downs returned it four yards to the WSU 48. 

On the following possession Vic Enwere  ran the ball 6 yards to the end zone to give the Bears a 10-0 lead late in the first.  The next Cougar possession, Falk put together a 15 play drive that took over 8 minutes, and Luke found Tavares Martin Jr. in the back of the end zone for a touchdown, but was called back because of a slight push off by Martin.  This was something the Cougs have been doing all year, and really didn’t seem to affect the play, but was how it went for WAZZU on Friday night.  Erik Powell connected on a 52 yard field goal for their only points of the game. 

In the final 2 minutes of the half, Falk rushed for 8 yards on 3rd and 10 and was hit in the helmet and called for targeting, which was then over turned.  Mitchell  Cox then punted the ball that went off the side of his foot and sailed 1 yard, so the Bears started their drive from the Cougar 45 yard line with 52 seconds left in the half.  Bowers drove the Bears down to the 2 yard line with two seconds left in the half.  They chose to go for the 6 points, and under pressure, Bowers was able to find Kyle Wells open to give the Bears 17-3 lead at half and  huge control of the game.

Falk came out in the second half firing, but on their first drive out of the locker room, Falk’s shovel pass bounced off the backs arm and intercepted by Raymon Davison at the Cal 14.  The Cougs just couldn’t get it together all night.  Two more of Falk’s five interceptions were deflected off WSU players.  Early in the fourth on 3rd and goal from the seven with the Bears up 20-3, Ross Bowers ran the ball and dove over the goal line, flipping into the endzone.  This looked identical to Bowers flip into the end zone against Chiawana in the state championship in 2014.  The 24 point deficit was too much for the Cougs to overcome this time and the eighth ranked Cougs were shocked by Cal.  “We didn’t play good in any aspect of the game.  Cal outcoached us, Cal outplayed us, “  Mike Leach said.  “They wanted to win more than we did, they tried harder than we did.  Our guys just saunter around the field like we had accomplished something.”


The Cougs needed this wake up call.  Last year opened up with two losses, which changed their mindset and following that game, they reeled off eight straight wins.  The Cougs haven’t played up to their potential all season.  They escaped Boise State and USC, but didn’t look like they had it all together, and Friday night showed that.  The Cougs play Colorado at home next Saturday then travel to Arizona.  The Cougs can just learn from their mishaps in this game.  23 yards of Rushing and 337 yards of total offense is uncharacteristic of the Cougs, and have nowhere to go but up.


Cougs Improve to 6-0

Luke Falk threw for 282 yards with 3 touchdowns as the Cougs take down the one loss Oregon Ducks 33-10.  The Cougs traveled down I-5 to play the always dangerous Oregon Ducks in Autzen Stadium.  Last Friday, the Cougs finished off the fifth ranked USC Trojans for their biggest win since 2003, and were in danger of falling into the “Let down game” trap.

Falk put WAZZU on the board early on their first play from scrimmage dumping the ball to running back Jamal Morrow who ran 41 yards to the end zone to put the Cougs up 7-0 early. The Oregon Ducks who had their first and second string quarterbacks knocked out the game last week against Cal, and were starting true freshman Braxton Burmeister who only had one pass as a college quarterback.   “They have an offensive identity that they’ve had for a long time, and obviously that guy was going to try to duplicate that,” Coach Mike Leach said. The Coug defense was licking its chops and put the pressure on the freshman sacking him 4 times.  Late in the first, Burmeister connected with Jacob Breeland for a 30 yard touchdown strike to give the Ducks the 10-7 lead.  The Cougs were able to tack on a couple of field goals, and took a 13-10 lead at half.

To start the half, Falk drove the Cougs 75 yards in 7 plays ending in a 10 yard touchdown pass to Renard Bell. “It was really big because in the first half, we left a lot of points out there,” Falk said, “Kinda takes confidence away from the other side and punching it in gives us tremendous confidence in the second half.”  Late in the third, Burmeister was intercepted by Marcus Strong and returned 27 yards to the Oregon 25 yard line. The next play Falk connected with Isaiah Johnson-Mack for the 25 yard touchdown to put the game away up 30-10 in the fourth.  “It was a tighter game than the score, I did feel like something was going to blow it open.  There are a lot of key points, but I thought one was Luke hitting Isaiah for the touchdown,” Leach said.


The Cougs did a great job of adjusting in the second half and held the Duck offense to 277 yards and 132 on the ground which is usually their bread and butter.  The Cougs start 6-0 for the first time since 2001 and go on the road Friday to face Cal who lost their last 2 games including a 38-7 drubbing by the Washington Huskies Saturday night.  The Cougs are going to jump into the top 10 for the first time since the 2003 season.

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