Wolves grab "Moore" hardware

Sophomore Jamil Moore waited patiently all season for an opportunity to show fans a glimpse of the future.

The reserve guard scored eight points in a 49-46 overtime win against Walla Walla to help guide SK to a fifth-place finish at the 4A state tournament.

No points were as crucial as the last three he scored.

Tied 46-46 in overtime, SK played for the last shot.

An open Moore was fouled by Walla Walla’s Bryan Pendleton while in the act of shooting a 3-pointer.

A stunned crowd patiently watched as Moore approached the free throw line with eight-tenths of a second remaining.

He needed to convert just one of three free throws to all but guarantee a victory.

Moore delivered by nailing all three free throws and giving the Wolves its highest placing at state since it won the state title in 1950.

The overtime game marked the fourth post-season game SK extended its games beyond regulation.

In all four instances, SK came out on top.

Prior to Moore’s free throws, SK coach John Callaghan knew a victory was eminent.

“It’s automatic,” Callaghan said. “We shoot free throws every day with that opportunity. I knew he’d hit at least one but he got all three.”

Walla Walla was up 41-39 towards the end of regulation but SK senior Brian Cox, whose clutch play at districts propelled SK into the state tournament, calmly sank two free throws with 30 seconds to go to send the game into overtime.

SK held a slim 46-44 lead going into the final 30 seconds but a foul called on SK’s Nate Seitz put Walla Walla’s Pierce Johnson on the free throw line and he sank both of his throws to tie the score with 20 seconds to play.

Cox pushed the ball just beyond half court and called a timeout.

After running the clock down, Cox found Moore open beyond the arch and he let it fly with time winding down.

Moore said he was clearly fouled as he went up for the shot.

“I thought it looked good and would have gone in if he hadn’t fouled me,” Moore said.

Moore said he felt nervous but was put at ease by his teammates and coaches.

“Coach told me to take it slow one at a time,” Moore said. “My teammates believed in me and just concentrated one at a time.”

Moore said he wasn’t as successful during pre-game shootaround.

“Before the game during shootaround I wasn’t hitting no free throws,” he said. “So I was sort of nervous. But I just blocked out the crowd. Once I hit the first one I was fine.”

Cox, who was a fixture at the free throw line, said he couldn’t have been happier for Moore.

“For him to be in a situation like that I just wondered what he was thinking,” Cox said. “I wouldn’t want to pass the torch down to any other person but him. He deserves every bit of credit he gets for (Saturday) and the future.”

Cox was the only other SK player to score in double figures (11 points), but it was SK’s defense that helped Walla Walla shoot a paltry 29 percent field goal percentage.

It’s not a shooting percentage Callaghan expected out of a tough shooting Blue Devils team.

“We knew they could shoot it,” Callaghan said. “We have total respect for them. They have two six-foot-four guys that battled with our big guys. It was just an awesome game.”

Callaghan said the fifth place finish was especially bittersweet because the Wolves finished so high despite playing its worst stretch of basketball offensively.

“I don’t think we played our best basketball here but we still played as hard as we could,” he said.

Seitz said the tough wins were a testament to the character of this year’s squad.

“It’s a disappointment that you know you can’t get first place,” Seitz said. “But you have to come out and battle the next three days and play your kind of basketball to let people know that you were meant to be here and should be here. We played maybe 75 percent of what our best basketball is and we were still able to beat three quality teams.”

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