West Valley of Yakima (5-4) made the 160 mile trip to the Seattle suburbs to play Mountlake Terrace (7-1), and North Creek High (0-6) this past week.

"We love to come up here and showcase what we've got going on at West Valley and in Yakima Basketball," said West Valley sophomore guard Malachi Caffrey.

The Rams would leave the road trip splitting two non-conference match-ups. Defeating North Creek 62-49 on Tuesday, while falling to Mountlake Terrace in a 71-68 barn-burner on Wednesday.

"These games help us prepare for tough league matchups. It's a different kind of competition. We gave them everything they could handle. Our job is to be as good as we can be by the time playoff basketball starts," commented West Valley head coach Jon Kinloch.

North Creek is an expansion high school based out of Bothell, Washington. They are playing quite literally their first few games as a varsity team, so the 13-point victory by West Valley was unsurprising.

West Valley had their biggest test of the season against 7-1 Mountlake Terrace, a team that made it to the 2A state quarterfinals the year before.

The boys of West Valley held their own the entire contest. Keeping the score within four points the entire contest.

Down 69-65 with 29 seconds left, a double-teamed Dallin Cluff made the pass to a wide open Malachi Caffrey, who drained the three at the top of the key.

This made the score 69-68 with 16 seconds left.

Keegan Grayson-Zehrung's free throws sealed West Valley's faith
Keegan Grayson-Zehrung's free throws sealed West Valley's faith

West Valley would go on to foul Mountlake Terrace guard Keegan Grayson-Zehrung. With nine seconds left, Keegan hit both free throws to stretch their lead to 71-68.

After a final three fell short by West Valley, Mountlake Terrace escaped with their seventh victory on the young season.

The difference-maker for Mountlake Terrace was 6-4 senior forward Khyree Armstead. Armstead finished with 20 points, including 14 in the second half.

"Seeing different teams from around the state; playing against different teams always makes you better. We love seeing how we stack up," said Armstead on the match-up against the Yakima-based school.

Dallin Cluff (14) sets up Khyree Armstead in the third quarter
Dallin Cluff (14) sets up Khyree Armstead in the third quarter. Cluff finished with 23 points, including 5 three-pointers

When asked what he'd like to see change at this point in the season, Coach Kinloch had this to say:

"We're a really good shooting team, and we haven't shot to our ability. We're going to shoot better as the season goes on, and when we do we'll be a lot more dangerous."

While many teams are resting up over this Christmas break weekend, West Valley will recollect and suit up quickly.

They will square up against a very tough Toppenish squad (5-2) this Saturday 7:30pm at Toppenish High. While not necessarily must win; picking up a win would be crucial in boosting their RPI rating.

RPI is the measuring stick used in ranking playoff teams. A win against a top tier opponent like Toppenish would fly West Valley up the rankings.

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