YAKIMA - Dakota's dream of a repeat CBA championship crashed on the Yakima Valley SunDome floor with a thud Monday night as the Wizards dropped a 105-100 decision to the Yakima Sun Kings in Game 4 of the National conference championship series.
Yakima won the final three games of the best-of-5 series after dropping the opener in Bismarck on March 11.
"The key to this was Game 2," Dakota coach Dave Joerger said. "They came out ready to play and we didn't."
Anthony Goldwire, in just his second game since returning from a stint with the NBA's Washington Wizards, had 26 points to lead Yakima. That gave Goldwire 62 points in the two games in Yakima, and he finished with 10 3-point field goals in 12 attempts in the two contests.
Seven other Yakima players scored in double figures. Malik Dixon led Dakota with 23 points. Oliver Miller had 18.
Alex Jensen, the Sun King that Joerger called the unsung hero, was just that in the stretch run. The 6-foot-8, 225-pounder guarded Oliver Miller - giving up at least 100 pounds in the process, and seemed to be everywhere the ball was. Jensen finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
"He's a warrior. What can you say?" Joerger said. "He was guarding Oliver Miller effectively down the stretch."
The teams battled evenly throughout most of the game. In the final 24 minutes there was no lead larger than five points, and that was in the final minutes.
Yakima finally achieved some separation on a 3-pointer by Anthony Goldwire with 4:15 remaining. The Wizards kept it close, but couldn't find a way to get close enough to have a shot at the lead.
Yakima went on an early run - fueled by former UCLA teammates Mitchell Butler and Darrick Martin - and took a 19-6 lead.
Butler, who missed the second half of Sunday night's game after injuring his left ankle, had six points during the run - scoring twice off assists by Martin - and Martin added a free throw after a technical on Joerger.
The Wizards came right back - scoring 12 of the next 13 points - to pull within two at 20-18. From that point on, with the exception of a 35-29 Yakima lead built on eight straight points by Goldwire, the Wizards were yapping at Yakima's heels the rest of the half. The Wizards pulled the game into a tie on three occasions in the second period, but never took the lead.
The teams exchanged mini-runs through the third period, and Dakota took the lead on two occasions, but never for long.
Andy Panko, who took just one shot in the first half, popped for seven points in the period. Yakima, struggling offensively despite using the two point guard attack that was so successful Sunday night, needed four 3-pointers to keep it close.
(Michael Anderson is the sports editor for the Yakima Herald-Republic.)