Pullman boys basketball advances in 2A District Playoffs, beats Rogers 90-53

Brown scores 38 points, makes 8 threes, Pullman will play West Valley Thursday



Pullman shooting guard Champ Powaukee dunks the ball during a basketball district playoff game against Rogers, Feb. 14, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor

It is easy to fall in love with Jaedyn Brown’s 3-point shot as the 6-foot-4 senior spent Valentine’s Day hitting eight 3-pointers and scoring 38 points to lead the Pullman Greyhounds to a 90-53 victory over the Rogers Pirates Tuesday night at Pullman High School.

Facing the school they blew out a week prior, 81-42 Feb. 7 in Pullman and 83-53 Jan. 20 at Rogers HS in Spokane, the Pullman Greyhounds (21-0, 11-0 2A/3A/4A Greater Spokane League) took care of business against the Rogers Pirates (11-11, 3-8) in the second round of the Greater Spokane League District Playoffs. It was their first playoff game as the top-seeded Greyhounds received a first-round bye because of their undefeated regular season.

Brown, who scored 40 points with six 3-pointers the previous week against Rogers, scored 38 points with eight 3-pointers against Rogers Tuesday night.

Brown hit his eight 3-pointers from all over the floor including the left corner, center left and right wings and one from a way downtown, almost three feet past the 3-point line and 22 feet away from the basket. Once again, no one could stop Brown.

The Greyhounds’ most popular play of the night resembled a football outlet pass in which a Greyhound would chuck the ball over the Pirates’ heads to the other side of the court where an opportunistic teammate was waiting and delivered the layup — or in some cases, the dunk — to get the crowd on their feet.

The first time this play unfolded, junior Champ Powaukee flung the ball into the waiting arms of Brown for the basket.

Pullman point guard Jaedyn Brown dunks the ball during a basketball district playoff game against Rogers, Feb. 14, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

Brown would later return the favor to Powaukee, setting up fantastic dunks and highlight-reel plays all night long.

Powaukee said the team saw on film that Rogers struggled to get back down the court to defend the basket after they scored, leaving the basket vulnerable to a court-length assist and so they exploited that.

In the second quarter, 6-foot-7 senior Dane Sykes won a footrace with Rogers’ Brady Krebs for a loose ball. Sykes sprinted down the court, cut into Krebs’ path, grabbed the ball, turned to his left and made the bunny basket to extend the Greyhounds’ lead to 31-15 with 3:20 left in the first half.

Sykes finished the day with 12 points largely off of shots within the paint and free throws.

Pullman shooting forward Dane Sykes makes his entrance before a basketball district playoff game against Rogers, Feb. 14, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

Powaukee had missed several shots the week prior versus Rogers but had nonetheless turned in a solid 9-point performance with some incredible plays such as an across-the-body alley-oop.

On Tuesday, Powaukee was lethal from beneath the basket and from outside the arc on a night in which he scored 16 points and sank two 3-pointers.

Pullman shooting guard Champ Powaukee jumps for a layup during a basketball district playoff game against Rogers, Feb. 14, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

In the third quarter, Powaukee stopped on a dime and nailed the 3-pointer as all Rogers could do was watch.

“I pulled up the left side of the court and then just shot it on the fast break. Just got the whole crowd hyped,” Powaukee said.

Powaukee worked hard in the summer and throughout the season to develop his 3-point shot. On Tuesday, that hard work showed up in the Greyhounds’ first postseason game.

Austin Hunt is the 6-foot-11 center fondly known as “Tiny” by his teammates and fans. Hunt started the game by missing several shots in the paint. He emerged from the locker room in the second half to make more shots and stand up to the opposition like the physical player he is.

“Got a little bit of a real talk from all the coaches being like, ‘Hey, you need to do better. You are better than this.’ I think that always helps,” Hunt said.

In the third quarter, Sykes passed the ball to Hunt beneath the basket. Hunt chest bumped Rogers’ Treshon Green before he steadied himself and made the shot.

“I always just try to out-muscle and then go up and sometimes I pray. Sometimes I know it’s gonna go in,” Hunt said.

Hunt finished the game with 11 points.

“I do take pride in being the bigger guy,” Hunt said. “But sometimes I forget that. It always helps to get reminded of that.”

Late in the third quarter, Powaukee handled a pass in the inner-right wing, drove the ball to the outside and passed it to a wide-open 6-foot-2 junior Caleb Northcroft who drilled the 3-point shot.

Northcroft was not finished providing valuable offense off of the bench as he crossed over from inside to outside the 3-point line in the right wing took three steps to his left and found Brown across the court in the left wing for yet another 3-point shot.

Rogers simply could not stop Brown. In the fourth quarter, Brown took an inbound pass up the court, stopped in the right wing and fired away another 3-point shot off of the dribble.

Brown’s offensive prowess did not just help him score but he also set up his teammates for success. 

Late in the first quarter, Brown drove toward the hoop attracting the attention of the majority of the Pirates on the floor. In their attempt to stop Brown, a Rogers defender left junior Alex Bickelhaupt wide open to receive the Brown pass and nail the layup off the glass.

Other scorers for Pullman included senior Tanner Barbour for 5 points and junior Logan Thompson for 2 points.

Aaron Kinsey led the Rogers Pirates with 14 points. Ronald Warrick V and Green each scored 12 points.

The Greyhounds must again beat the same team within a week if they wish to win the Greater Spokane League’s 2A Championship as they will face West Valley High School (18-3, 9-2), a team they beat 63-45, Friday night in Spokane. 

The Greyhounds take pride in playing so well at home.

“It’s very important,” Powaukee said. “Just get more people to come and then put on a show.”

As the Greyhounds continue their postseason play, their focus is razor-sharp.

“Focus is just to make a good play, just prepare for the game and just watch a whole lot of film,” Powaukee said.

The Pullman Greyhounds and the West Valley Eagles will play for hardware at 6 p.m. Thursday at Pullman HS.