KNAPPA — With both schools having canceled or postponed their originally scheduled games, the Seaside and Knappa boys basketball teams decided to keep it “in county” Friday night, as the Gulls paid a rare visit to Knappa, for a nonleague Clatsop Clash.
And in the matchup between the best team at the Class 4A level and one of the best at the 2A level, the Gulls got the best of the Loggers in a 78-54 Seaside victory.
Knappa is undefeated against 2A and 3A competition, but dropped to 0-2 against the 4A (Astoria knocked off Knappa Dec. 3, 54-47).
“Knappa has a pretty good ball team,” said Seaside coach Bill Westerholm. “Dale Takalo is one of the better offensive players we’ll see, they’ve got guards who can handle the ball really well, and they don’t turn the ball over.”
Meanwhile, it was one of the closest halftime margins of the season for the unbeaten (10-0) Gulls, who held a slim 38-30 lead at the break.
Basically, these were two teams with high hopes of playing in state championship games come March. And they gave the fans their money’s worth.
First half fireworks saw both teams hot from the field, with four 3-pointers by the Gulls and three for Knappa.
Consecutive scores by Takalo, Colton Weirup (3-pointer) and Ethan Rubus gave the Loggers an early 9-6 lead, but Seaside answered with 3-pointers from Jackson Januik and Hunter Thompson, with a two-point bucket from Januik giving the Gulls a 14-9 lead.
Duncan Thompson’s old-fashioned three-point play had Seaside in front, 19-12, before Knappa closed the first quarter with a 4-0 run.
Following a steal and score by Thompson, Takalo’s 3-pointer had Knappa within 21-19.
Jackson Januik had 14 of his game-high 20 points in the first half, and had help in the first half from Payton Westerholm, who assisted Attikin Babb for two midway through the fourth quarter, then drained a 3-pointer with 1:30 left to give the Gulls an eight-point halftime lead.
And — as they do in every game — the Gulls gradually wore down the Loggers in the second half and pulled away.
A three-point play by Weirup had Knappa within 45-37, but scores by the Januik brothers, including a steal and layup for Jackson, pushed Seaside’s lead to 51-37.
A long-range bomb by Hunter Thompson, followed by two free throws from Thompson, gave the Gulls a 56-40 advantage.
The Loggers had a few highlights of their own in the second half — a pair of 3-pointers from Eli Takalo and a three-point play by big brother Dale — but Seaside had a little too much depth down the stretch.
Westerholm banked in a pair of jump shots, and the Gulls were nearly flawless at the free throw line, building an eventual 24-point lead.
The 78 points was by far the most given up this season by the Loggers.
Still, “Seaside’s the No. 1 4A team for a reason, but I thought we played pretty good,” said Knappa coach Chris Spencer. “They’ve got a lot of skilled players, and maybe we gave them a game they weren’t expecting. We showed that we can play with anybody, and if not for a couple calls and a few misses, things might have turned out differently.”
Coach Westerholm, meanwhile, was anxious to see how his players played in the “Knappa Environment.”
“I was really looking forward to seeing how our kids played out there,” Westerholm said of Knappa, where he still has connections and relatives. “I told them before the game about all the history of that place, and I thought it was good for our kids to face a little adversity and play in a gym where the fans are right on you, yelling and screaming. I made sure we weren’t looking past them.
“Knappa teams have always been tough and competitive, and they’re not going to back down against anybody,” he said. “Even going back to the old (Craig) Cokley days, they would take on bigger schools in the summer.”