Photos by Suzanne Tennant
Foster’s Sam Woldemariam, #24, struggles for the rebound during the 2014 WIAA 2A Regionals against Hockinson on Saturday. Hockinson won with a final score of 64 to 53.

SLIDEHSHOW: Foster goes down firing

By Gerardo Bolong

KENT - It was on the Kent-Meridian High School gym floor that the Foster boys made their last gallant stand of 2014 on Saturday, March 1, in a 64-53 Class 2A Hardwood Classic round of 16 regional basketball loss to Hockinson (Bush Prairie).

Converting 33 of 39 from the free throw stripe, the Hawks reached the quarterfinals of the Class 2A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome while Foster had to accept the rugged loss after fighting its way through the district just to reach this high ground.

"Having so many free throws at this level of play was part of our problems," said head Bulldog coach Isaac Tucker. "We needed to put a body on them all the time and we didn't\t play well against the zone early. It's tough to see our big man (Ronnie Roberson) on the bench early with fouls. Ronnie doesn't score a lot, but he's a work horse on the glass. We also didn't have our freshman (point guard) today to run a different offense. Hockinson was physical and scored when they needed to."

Jack Klodt scored 24 points (15 of 15 from beyond the charity stripe) and Alan Haagen added 22 (13 of 14 from the free throw line) as Hockinson stayed just ahead of Foster through the second half.

The speed of the Bulldogs kept the Hawks off balance for much of the encounter although Hockinson built a five point lead early in the second quarter.

Ben Mitchell drained a corner three-pointer and tacked on a three from the left side to push the Bulldogs ahead, 18-17, midway through the second quarter before the Hawks flew to an 11-2 point surge to lead, 28-20 at halftime.

Foster closed within four points twice, but Hockinson pulled away to a 35-29 margin.

The Bulldogs made a powerful push beginning with a three-point bomb from Cory Covarrubia who was a key element throughout and trailed by only 40-37 with 25.6 seconds remaining in the quarter on the strength of back-door-cuts that produced lay ups and free throws.

Klodt turned the momentum around for the final time by downing a difficult three-pointer from the corner off an in bounds pass at the buzzer. The Bulldogs drew within 45-41 after a Roberson lay up followed by a a pair of free throws from Connor Forsyth at the 5:25 mark and at 53-49 on another Mitchell three with less than two minutes left, but could not get closer.

Cory Covarrubia led the Bulldogs with 12 points (4 of 8 from beyond the arc) and Mitchell put through 10 for Foster. Roberson and Forsyth each had 5 points while Max Montoya, Patrick Straight and Rashad Sang earned four points apiece.

Although the Foster season finished with a tough loss, the achievements speak highly of the comeback capability of these Bulldogs.

Mired in a 1-6 regular season start, Foster began to blend its talents to finish the regular season at 8-6 for a fourth place tie in the Class 2A/3A before dropping a decision to Fife in the first round of 2A sub-district. The Bulldogs then dropped decisions to Sumner and Steilacoom to enter district as the eighth seed. At district, Foster blasted away Renton before earning a regional spot with a tight 67-64 win against Sequim. Fighting hard, the Bulldogs were edged out 65-60 by eventual district champion White River before closing strongly to take the third seed to regionals in a 60-49 win against Bremerton.

"At district, we didn't change our philosophy, we just started playing together better," said Foster head coach Isaac Tucker. "Our chemistry was good and our freshman Isiah Lewis gave us a fresh look as he was running the show. We had a heck of a season. It began slowly, but the boys gradually learned to play as a team. I'm proud of our guys. It was an excellent season.

For us to have a successful season, we needed to show good behavior on and off the court, go together as a team and improve during the season. We did all of these."

Isiah Lewis, Cory Covarrubia, Max Montoya, Connor Forsyth, Patrick Straight, Rashad Sang, Ben Mitchell, Sam Woldemariam, Eric Teng, Patrick Goins, Camet Soe and Ronnie Roberson comprised the player roster for the 13-15 Foster Bulldogs.

Head coach Isaac Tucker is assisted by Rich Tucker and Joel Green. J.D. Hill is the athletic director.

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