EPHRATA — This time last year, the medical team was taking Othello big man Trenton Cutforth from the floor with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and ruptured meniscus that he suffered during the Central Washington Athletic Conference (CWAC) game against Ephrata.
On Saturday night in one last go against the Tigers (12-6, 10-6 CWAC), the 6-foot-3 Othello senior finished with a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds and the Huskies (2-16, 2-13 CWAC) almost upended Ephrata in Saturday night’s game, falling 70-61 to a team currently fourth in the CWAC standings.
Cutforth buried back-to-back 3-point shots. Jonathan Garza hit the Huskies’ third consecutive shot from beyond the arc and Othello drew to within five, 64-59, after trailing by 16 going into the final quarter.
Ephrata forward Hunter James ended the Huskies’ 9-0 run with a little over three minutes left. The Huskies made it a five-point game, 66-61, with 2:12 left, but that’s as close as they would get.
“We played well. But every time we made a run at them, they came right back. Trenton tore an ACL in this game last year, so I’m very happy for him,” Othello coach George Juarez said. “To be able to come back from something like that is pretty special. He finished with 14 rebounds tonight and did a nice job keeping them off the boards.”
It was a brutal week for both teams and the tail end of five games in eight days as they made up the games postponed by last week’s winter blast. If the district tournament were today the Tigers would be the fourth seed. They’re one game back of Toppenish for the third, and to tell you the truth they were just happy to get out of their house still in that same position.
“I thought Othello showed a lot of pride tonight,” Ephrata coach Brandon Evenson said. “That fourth quarter, we got a little soft, which was the result of playing five games in eight days and we got a little tired.”
Where the Tigers took a page from Al Davis’ songbook, “Just win, baby.” Cutforth, who had eight of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, was happy to be on the floor for his senior season.
“It feels good to be playing. I was a little nervous in the beginning. I wasn’t sure about the contact, but I worked my way through it,” Cutforth said. “Tonight, I knew I had to play physical. I’m bigger than they are, so told myself I have to make that count. I was able to locate the ball and find a way to go get the rebound.”
Ephrata point guard Cameron Clark led all scorers with 23, including five 3-point baskets. Running mate Jakob Oxos also buried five from downtown en route to 22 points. The Huskies finished with four players in double digits, Cutforth (14), Kyler Villarreal (13), Jonathan Garza (12) and Elias Valdez (11).
“We need to win the rest of our games to get a home seed, so we get to play here,” said Tiger forward Luke Vaughan. “We’ve only lost once at home the whole year. We can only control what we can, but if we can get that home game it will help us down the road.”
Score by quarters
Othello 13 17 15 16 — 61
Ephrata 23 20 16 11 — 70
OTHELLO — Joseph Lopez 4, Kyler Villarreal 13, Jonathan Garza 12, Elias Valdez 11, Trevor Hilmes 3, Trenton Cutforth 14. Totals — Field goals: 22. 3-point goals: 13. Free throws: 6-8. Score: 61
EPHRATA — Trenton Kleyn 2, Jacob Oxos 22, Caden Blankenship 5, Hunter Cleveringa 2, Hunter James 6, Luke Vaughan 5, Cameron Clark 23, Joshua Benthem 7. Totals — Field goals: 25. 3-point goals: 10. Free throws 8-10. Score: 70
Toppenish 81, Othello 59
OTHELLO — Othello had no answer for Isiah Perez and fell to Toppenish 81-59.
Perez totaled 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Ephrata 66, Ellensburg 65
ELLENSBURG — Cameron Clark’s 3-pointer in the final seconds propelled Ephrata past Ellensburg 66-65.
The last-second victory firmed up the Tigers’ playoff hopes.