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Friday, March 9, 2007 - Page updated at 02:02 AM

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3A Boys | N. Central, at 10-17, into semis

Seattle Times staff reporter

At first, the question was: What's an 8-17 team doing in the Class 3A tournament?

Now the question is: What's a 10-17 team doing in the semifinals?

Meet North Central of Spokane, poster boys for a sport that rewards teams that get hot at the end of the season.

On Thursday night, the Indians dominated seventh-ranked Mount Vernon 58-44 and now find themselves in the semifinals tonight against the late Bellevue-Bainbridge winner.

"We've been using George Mason [as a model] since the playoffs began," said captain Boone Plager of the darkhorse that made the Final Four in last year's NCAA tournament.

North Central Coach Jay Webber admitted he was stunned.

"If you had asked me three or four weeks ago," he said. "I would have said, 'No way.' "

The Indians finished the regular season 4-16, tied for last in the Greater Spokane League. That sounds bad even when you toss in the fact that the league included undefeated Class 4A state champion Ferris.

Because there are only 10 3A teams east of the Cascades, the Indians got a chance to stick their toe into postseason water. On the way to Seattle, they won five games, three of them loser-out contests. North Central arrived to find itself being treated like it didn't belong. The Seattle Times ranked the Indians last among 16 teams.

The Indians, who finished fifth at state last year but lost four starters, went out and beat Hudson's Bay of Vancouver 67-66 in overtime Wednesday.

Against Mount Vernon, junior guard Nick Rijon led the way with 28 points and the Indians shot 50 percent. They also outrebounded the Bulldogs 36-27.

Mount Vernon shot itself into the loser's bracket, making 17 of 54 field-goal attempts (31 percent), including 3 of 12 on three-point tries.

 

 

 

 

 

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