SPOKANE — Justin Hudson was surprised he still had his voice. Brock Ravet could hardly speak. And head coach Tim Ravet couldn’t help but sport a smile all the way through his post-game interview.

Kittitas Secondary School boys basketball undoubtedly played its toughest game not only this season — but maybe ever as a group.

No. 1 Kittitas and No. 4 Brewster High School were neck and neck down to the final seconds in the 2B state semifinal matchup at the Spokane Arena Friday. But for the third straight year in a row, the Kittitas Coyotes are back to the championship game, defeating the Bears, 77-71.

Each Kittitas player, coach and fan let out a tumultuous roar once the clock struck zero.

“That just shows how much we love each other,” Brock said. “Because we fought back … I’m almost emotional.”

Kittitas (27-1) and Brewster (20-6) experienced six lead changes in the final quarter. Corey Jarrell’s floater with 1:15 remaining gave the Bears their final lead.

Brock quickly responded with a step-back fade-away jumper. And then a Brewster mishap on offense put the ball in Kittitas’ hands and a foul sent Martin Arreola to the free throw line — hitting both.

And again, the Kittitas defense came up huge. Hudson stole the inbound pass near half court the next Brewster possession.

“I saw him cutting, I knew they needed to get up the floor a basket, and I don’t know — I just anticipated it,” Hudson said.

Hudson was fouled, sent for a 1-and-1 opportunity at the free-throw line. He missed, but grabbed his own rebound and was sent to the line again, hitting 1-of-2, making the score 75-71.

Brewster couldn’t capitalize on its shot try and for the second straight game, the Coyotes could let out another sigh of relief, as they advanced to the finals for a chance to 3-peat.

“That’s why you coach,” Tim said. “Those are the fun ones. Honestly, that was as fun of a game as I’ve been a part of. For back-and-forth, having to go through struggles and deal with things, and kind of play through adversity. Just seeing them throw blows at us, and us throw blows at them, that’s what people come to watch.

“And that’s what kids hopefully play for, is that opportunity to play through struggles. I mean, that’s what life is all about. You saw that if you didn’t give up, keep battling, keep fighting, you have a chance.

“Where there’s life — there’s hope.”

The state scoring leader did what he needed to do to keep Kittitas in the game, tallying a scintillating 40 points, tying his season high. He was 16-of-32 from the field, and 7-of-14 from beyond the arc. When the Coyotes needed a spark, Brock was there to ignite it.

But with four fouls in the fourth quarter, he had to be cautious especially with seven minutes left in the contest, tied 55-55.

Tim had Brock switch on defense to guard Brewster’s Cade Gebbers.

“…You can get points back, but you can’t get fouls back,” Tim said. “And that’s the bottom line, but you got to be able sometimes to maybe give up a point or two or whatever, but you can’t foul anybody anymore.”

Brewster’s 6-foot 6-inch Conner Ashworth was Kittitas’ culprit most the afternoon. He notched a team-leading 23 points along with 15 rebounds.

“He’s tough, he’s tough especially for us, with not a lot of size to deal with,” Tim said.

Brewster came out firing in the opening minutes, grabbing a 9-2 advantage to compel a Kittitas timeout. Ashworth was a bully down in the paint, scoring six points of its nine.

Then came Brock, adding back to back baskets — and later a 3 to trail four.

The Bears led 21-17 until a Brock 3 and bullet pass to Caleb Harris had Kittitas take its first lead of the game, ending the first quarter.

Brewster made its next three shot attempts to keep a distance from the Coyotes, but Kittitas started a little spurt. Bailey Gibson’s 2 points cut the deficit to two, and Harris’ bucket tied the game 30-30 with four minutes remaining in the second quarter.

Kittitas went into the break leading 41-38.

As a team, the Coyotes shot 49.2 percent. Brewster shot 54.9 percent.

Brock corralled seven rebounds and totaled five assists.

Harris notched 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting, and had three steals. Gibson and Arreola each had eight points.

“Everyone stepped it up honestly,” Brock said. “Bailey (Gibson), Martin (Arreola), Justin (Hudson) at the end, those big free throws.”

Kittitas will face St. George’s High School (24-2) for a rematch of the 2B Championship, Saturday at 9 p.m.

The Coyotes defeated the Dragons 65-50 last year in the title game.

Kittitas’ only loss this season was to St. George’s back on Nov. 30, 75-66.

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