Sienko leads St. George's to a wild win over Morton-White Pass
The din of the crowd was deafening and the product on the court was worth every decibel. This was a game worthy of the state tournament.
In the end, it was Dexter Sienko who stole the show. And what a show it was.
Led by Sienko's 28 points, 16 rebounds, and perhaps most importantly, two offensive rebounds that led to four points in the final 45 seconds of regulation, St. George's beat Morton-White Pass, 73-69 in overtime on Thursday, in a wild first-round game of the boys 2B State Tournament at Spokane Arena.
"I think we did a heck of a job battling back," St. George's head coach Ryan Peplinski said. "Seemed like every time we made a run at them, they'd knock down a bucket."
After chipping into a five-point deficit to get within one, Sienko grabbed a rebound over three Morton-White Pass players and put the ball into the bucket to give St. George's a 58-57 lead.
But Timberwolves sophomore Zach Walton was fouled shooting a jumper on the ensuing possession and hit both free throws to put Morton-White Pass back in front, 59-58.
Facing another deficit, the Dragons' Erik Muelheims missed a short jumper, but again Sienko came down with the offensive rebound. And yet again, he converted the miss into a layup. The two-ball with 13 seconds left gave St. George's the 60-59 lead.
"Just in the right position on a couple of those rebounds and just strong on the putbacks," Sienko said.
Morton-White Pass appeared to have nothing left after a desperation shot just inside the halfcourt line clanged off the backboard, but sophomore Jesse Eveland was fouled on a putback attempt with 0.4 seconds left.
While a large contingent of St. George's students rattled the gym with noise, Eveland rimmed the first free throw off the back iron before calmly sinking the second to send the game to overtime.
Overtime was all Sienko's, though, as he scored 11 of his game-high 28 points in the extra period. The 6-foot-6 junior also pulled down 16 rebounds to lead the Dragons. Will Tender added 19 points, with 17 coming in the first half.
"They did a good job in the first half [on Sienko], were real physical with him and kind of always had a couple guys hanging on him when he went to the rim. I think kind of a couple guys knocking down shots from the outside opened some things up. They had to stretch a little bit more and then Dexter did a great job on the O-boards.
"Watched the weakside, went up, elevated ... he just had a heck of a performance tonight, second half."
Morton-White Pass was forced to play without leading scorer Kalen Dunlap for the final 3:30 of regulation and overtime after the junior fouled out. Dunlap scored 18 points and had six rebounds before he was forced to exit.
"[Dunlap] fouling out really hurt them because he's a heck of a player -- he's shooting well, he's getting in the paint," Peplinski said.
Sienko stopped the game for a few minutes with 7:16 left in the third quarter as a thunderous two-handed dunk bent the folding hoop support. Multiple tournament officials gathered around the basket before they were able to hoist the backboard and rim into the right position.
Morton-White Pass plays Northwest Christian at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, while St. George's faces Lind-Ritzville-Sprague at 2:00 p.m.