Tigers run away from Huskies in district opener

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  • Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Ephrata guard Caden Blankenship drives to the basket against Othello's Sam Azevedo.

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    Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Othello head coach Roman Pruneda gestures to his team during Monday's district playoff game against Ephrata.

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    Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Ephrata forward Joshua Benthem pulls up for a shot against Othello's Julian McDonald (52).

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    Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Othello wing Kyler Villarreal (right) dribbles up the court against Ephrata's Caden Blankenship.

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    Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Othello's Hilario Murillo looks for space in the post against Ephrata.

  • Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Ephrata guard Caden Blankenship drives to the basket against Othello's Sam Azevedo.

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    Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Othello head coach Roman Pruneda gestures to his team during Monday's district playoff game against Ephrata.

  • 2

    Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Ephrata forward Joshua Benthem pulls up for a shot against Othello's Julian McDonald (52).

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    Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Othello wing Kyler Villarreal (right) dribbles up the court against Ephrata's Caden Blankenship.

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    Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Othello's Hilario Murillo looks for space in the post against Ephrata.

EPHRATA — Ephrata ran, ran and then ran some more.

Behind an efficient inside-outside attack, Ephrata pulled away from Othello in the first half and won its district opener 80-49.

It was standing room only in the Jungle, but the scoreboard allowed only one side to vocalize for most of the game.

“None of these kids for them have played in it (district playoffs) and four or five of mine had last year,” Ephrata head coach Brandon Evenson said. “That and when we played them in the regular season — not taking away from anything they did ‘cause they played us really well twice — but they were the second of a back-to-back and we were really sick that first time and they shot it extremely well. So, tonight we could game-plan for just them and we probably caught them on an off night.”

Balanced scoring won the day for Ephrata.

Jakob Oxos, Caden Blankenship, Trenton Kleyn, Joshua Benthem and Hunter James all scored between 10 and 16 points; Blankenship and Oxos were the high-men with 16.

The Tigers kept the Huskies on their heels at the beginning and end of quarters.

When Othello cut its deficit to eight points in the second quarter, Ephrata closed the fist half on a 10-2 run. Again, Othello got as close as 11 points in the third quarter before Ephrata rattled off eight straight points.

“They’ve got two guards who can really put it up — or three, actually,” Othello head coach Roman Pruneda said. “They can put it and when you’re a three-point shooting team you’re never out of a game and if you don’t defend that three it’s going to be a long night, but they played great. They came out firing. The home energy helped a lot and them wanting that revenge helps a lot, too.”

Othello’s offense came in fits and starts.

The Huskies had lost starters Michael Gutierrez and Justis Garcia due to injury. That left standout wing Kyler Villarreal.

Villarreal had burned the Tigers for 32 and 27 points, respectively, during the regular season. Monday, every touch for Villarreal was under duress as a he finished with 15 points, seven of which came in the second quarter.

“You’re not going to shut him down, you really aren’t,” Evenson said. “We wanted him to work for every point that he got and I thought we did a nice job of that. Just keeping pressure on him, helping when he drives. Just really proud of how we defended them tonight.”

The Huskies did receive a lift from junior Hilario Murillo, who added nine points.

However, the Tigers never let up and put the game away with a 10-2 spurt to start the fourth quarter.

“We really executed our offense and defensive game-plan compared to the other games, so that really helped,” Kleyn said.

Next: Ephrata at Ellensburg, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Score by quarters

O — 7 17 18 7 49

E — 18 22 21 19 80

Scoring

Ephrata: Jakob Oxos 16, Caden Blankenship 16, Trenton Kleyn 15, Hunter James 14, Joshua Benthem 10, Ravi McConnell 4, Carter Cleveringa 3, Lakota Lange 2

Othello: Kyler Villarreal 15, Hilario Murillo 9, Jonathan Garza 7, Sam Azevedo 5, Julian McDonald 5, Trevor Hilmes 5, James Calzadillas 2, Frank Lopez 1

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