Playoffs begin for CLS Warriors

The Chief Leschi boys’ basketball team has survived a rollercoaster regular season and now enter the 2B Southwest District basketball tournament with everything on the line. After finishing the season 14-6 overall and 11-5 in 2B Pacific League play, the Warriors enter district action as the third seed out of the league.

However, before the postseason kicked into gear, the 2B Pacific League released their All-League Team and Chief Leschi came away with some well-deserved honors.

When the votes from the league’s head coaches were tabulated, Chief Leschi sophomore Donnelle Irvin wound up tied with Life Christian’s Omari Maulana as the 2B Pacific League’s co-most valuable player. After averaging 21 points and eight rebounds a game, the league rewarded Irvin for his excellent play, as well as another strong showing by his Warrior teammates.

Speaking of Irvin’s Warrior teammates, the smooth guard wasn’t the only player to nab league honors. Juniors Christopher Whitford and Kahea Baker were both named to the 2B Pacific League’s second team, with sophomore Delshae Gower receiving more than enough votes to earn honorable mention status.

Baker had a breakout season and finished the regular season averaging 18 points per game. Whitford added 15 points, 11 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game.

“He (Irvin) is a stud and a class act,” said Chief Leschi head coach Scott Halasz. “But the stats and accolades right now are all this team has to show for so far. They haven’t accomplished anything more than last year as of yet. You’ve got no excuse to have a league MVP on your team and two all-conference guys and not make it out of the district tournament.”

This year’s edition of the district tournament may very well go down as having the toughest group of teams in recent memory. Instead of six, there are only five berths to the state regionals available to the 16 teams in the field this season. So, the stakes are already higher than usual. Add in the fact that eight of the top 14 teams in the 2B Rankings Percentage Index (RPI) standings will be taking part in the tournament, and you’ve got the makings for tournament for the ages.

“it’s sad because I think there about eight teams in our district that would go beat the majority of teams at the state tournament,” said Halasz. “But three of us won’t get that chance.”

Chief Leschi will begin tournament play against a tough Winlock (13-8) team on Wednesday, Feb. 7. A victory will send the Warriors to the quarterfinals to face sixth-ranked Adna (18-2) on Saturday, Feb. 10.

“We won’t be satisfied until we make it out alive,” said Halasz. “If we make it through that gauntlet we will have all the confidence in the world to make a run at a state title.”