By NICK SLOAN, NJSloan212@gmail.com
Two years ago, the Washington Wildcats had to overcome an 18-point fourth quarter deficit and survive two grueling overtime periods to knock off the Hogan Prep Rams in the 2010 Citizen's National Bank final.
In 2012, the Wildcats really only needed three good quarters to cement a tournament title.
Washington defeated Leavenworth 62-48 in a game that really wasn't that close to win the program's second Leavenworth tournament crown in the past three years.
Senior forward James Jappa was Washington's MVP of the game and tournament. His 19-point, 17-rebound performance in the final against Leavenworth came off the heels of his 14-point, 14-rebound game against Hogan Prep in round two.
"Jappa's a beast," said Eric King, head coach of the Wildcats. "He worked his butt off this summer. He's always been a good player, but he had to get his weight under control and get into better shape to run."
The Wildcats used a 28-14 rebounding advantage in the first half to quickly establish dominance inside the paint. Jappa's 14 points led the way for Washington, as the Wildcats clawed to a 41-29 lead. Nine first quarter points by Kameron Allen helped Washington jump out to a 25-16 lead after the first quarter.
After the Pioneers cut the lead down to 27-21 early in the second quarter, the Wildcats used a 9-0 run to race off to a 15-point lead midway through the second quarter. Jappa scored five of those points.
Leavenworth, the host-school of the tournament, would not get any closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
"We had an advantage with our size," Jappa said. "We worked together as a team and we had a chance to bring some pride back to the school."
If Jappa was Washington's MVP of the tournament, a candidate for co-MVP may be senior forward Kindred Williams. Williams averaged 12 rebounds in the three Leavenworth games, teaming up with Jappa to provide Washington a strong one-two punch inside.
"We attacked the weak-side and crashed the boards the entire week," Williams said.
Against Hogan Prep, Jappa and Williams combined for 26 rebounds. Against Leavenworth on Saturday, that total was 30.
"Rebounding comes from our drill work at practice," King said. "They are starting to figure out the importance of rebounding. They also deserve credit for all of their hard-work."
If there was any doubt which team would probably win the game, it was erased early in the third quarter.
Five different Wildcat players scored points during an 11-3 run that extended Washington's lead to 20 points at 52-32. The Wildcats would lead by 23 at one point before the Pioneers cut the lead down in the final seconds during the fourth quarter.
For Washington's seniors, it was an opportunity to shine.
Jappa (19), Allen (14), Deandre King (12) and Williams (10) combined for 55 points in the game. The class has been compared by their coach to the 2011 group led by Tra'Vaughn White and the Hibler Twins.
Both classes have claimed tournament titles in Leavenworth. However, there's one thing that 2010-11 team did after winning the Leavenworth - finish second in Kansas 5A.
"We have to remain hungry," Deandre King said. "We can't get big-headed after this week."
Washington improves to 3-0 to begin the year.