The Wildcats demonstrated an new-found ability to grind out a game on Friday afternoon when they knocked off the Parma 45-35 in the 3A state consolation semi-finals.
Battling through early foul trouble and the frustration of their previous showing in the opening round, Kellogg showed their depth in a way they hadn’t had to for much of the year.
Kellogg put on a stellar first half offensive performance much like what they did all season long, scoring 32 points in the first 16 minutes (a lot of it coming from the Wildcats bench), but the second half was played at a much different pace.
Going scoreless for the first five minutes of the third quarter, the Wildcats were forced to show their defensive chops, the Panthers managed to pull within three, but the Wildcats rattled off seven quick points to re-extend their lead to nine as they entered the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats effectively ran long, time consuming possessions in the final quarter to ice the ballgame and punch their ticket to the consolation championship.
The slow-down style of play was at times uncomfortable to watch for the Wildcat faithful and it wasn’t necessarily part of the game plan.
“We didn’t plan that at all,” coach Jeff Nearing said with a chuckle. “I know it felt like we kind of stalled there, but we were missing some great looks. Grant (Nearing) had a couple, Tanner (Mueller) had one, but they just weren’t dropping. We stayed patient and hoped we’d get a few good looks and we did.”
The Wildcats also righted a major wrong from Thursday afternoon when they shot eight for 19 from the foul line, instead they shot 10 of 14 against Parma while scoring 16 points off of 14 Panther turnovers.
Tyler Gibbons led the Wildcats with 12 points, while Chase Jerome finished with 10.
Kellogg will take on Sugar Salem at 9:15 a.m. (8:15 PST) at Meridian High School in a game to determine fourth place in this year’s state tournament.