FORKS — Forks made a valiant comeback from an 18-point first-half deficit to tie the game late, but a 3-point basket by Hunter Demsky with 35 seconds left lifted the Seton Catholic Cougars to a 65-62 win over the Spartans in a Class 1A Southwest District 4 boys basketball playoff game at Forks on Friday.
Demsky’s game-winner, Seton Catholic’s 13th 3-pointer on the night, came seconds after Cole Baysinger knotted the score at 62 for the Spartans on an old-fashioned 3-point play with under a minute to play.
Baysinger took an entry pass in the low post from Braton Armas and banked in an absurdly difficult behind-his-back reverse layup while blanketed by three Cougar defenders.
The senior then sank a pressure packed free throw, but Demsky answered with the winner.
Forks didn’t get a final attempt at a tying shot, Seton Catholic poked a pass away with less than 10 seconds to go.
The Spartans (14-5) will play Elma (4-17) in a loser-out district game at Hoquiam at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
“Every single game we want to play with energy, effort and execution,” Forks coach Rick Gooding said. “I think the energy and effort were absolutely there. The kids were down 18 and they just climbed back into it. We were right there and they are a good team. They shot the ball well and you aren’t going to beat a team that shoots close to 50 percent [on 3s] and hits that many.”
Seton Catholic’s 3-point barrage began early, when the Cougars’ Isaiah Parker connected on two treys as part of a 10-0 Cougars’ run to open the game.
Forks trailed 35-17 when Matthew Kent nailed his fourth 3 of the first half, and third 3 of the second quarter, with 3:55 to go until halftime.
“We knew they were going to shoot, No. 2 [Parker] usually shoots more than he did, and No. 3 [Kent], the coaches kid was lights out,” Gooding said. “We actually went into, it wasn’t a box-and-one or a diamond, but we stayed in our 2-3 and tried to keep a guy on him.”
A blowout wasn’t out of the question, but a 3 by Seth Johnson and two baskets inside by Armas, the last off of an assist by Johnson at the first-half buzzer, had the Spartans down 36-25 at the break.
Forks held Kent scoreless in the second half, but like gophers in the garden, other pests popped up and popped off from 3-point range.
“It’s one of those tough things, a team shoots that good to start with, so you move to man [defense] to stop the 3,” Gooding said. “Then all of a sudden they put it [the ball] on the ground [and drive] and shoot floaters. So what do you do? You’re telling your defense, ‘Hey, stop the 3,’ so helpside [defense] is focused on stopping something else.”
Demsky hit four 3s and scored 16 of his 18 points after halftime as Seton Catholic answered each Spartan surge with a made basket.
Baysinger was a big part of Forks’ comeback. He scored all 11 of his points in the second half, including three straight buckets in the third quarter, as the Spartans pulled within three, 51-48 after three quarters.
Seton Catholic’s lead grew as high as six twice in the fourth, but Forks countered with big buckets by Jake Jacoby, Armas, and the game-tying 3-point play by Baysinger.
Armas led the Spartans with 19 points and Jacoby had 10.
“Jake did some great things for us, and Cole and Braton worked hard inside,” Gooding said.
To earn a regional berth, Forks must win three straight loser-out games on the road, beginning with Elma.
Seton Catholic 65, Forks 62
Seton 23 13 15 14— 65
Forks 13 12 23 14— 62
Seton Catholic (65) — Demsky 18, Kent 15, Parker 13, Miller 6, Pitzer 6, Cowger 3, Olson 3, Williams 1.