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Zillah caps perfect season as WIAA 1A basketball champion by upending Annie Wright in final seconds

Van De Graaf's putback of own miss lifts No. 1 Leopards to fifth championship in program history.

YAKIMA, Wash. - Call it the clank and the bank. Or, perhaps, the miss and the kiss.

Just whatever you call it, call it spectacular.

Zillah sophomore Dekker Van De Graaf soared through the air to grab his own badly missed 3-points and bank in the game-winner in the final seconds of the Leopards' 47-45 victory in the Class 1A state tournament Saturday night in the Yakima Valley SunDome.

Zillah is the first undefeated 1A champion since Doug Burge guided the 2014 Leopards to the same 27-0 record.

"I credit our nonconference schedule the gauntlet we went though playing those games," said Zillah coach Mario Mengarelli, who also guided the Leopards to championships in 2019 and 2017. "The resilience they showed day in and day out, they didn’t take any shortcuts and the basketball Gods reward you when you do that."

Van De Graaf poured in a game-high 21 points, and powered the Leopards late.

He pulled Zillah into a tie after they trailed by five with less than 2 minutes remaining. Then, with the score knotted 45-45, he dribbled the clock down to less than 10 seconds before hoisting a 30-footer.

His shot way off, Van De Graaf grabbed the careen mid-flight and banked in a floater to put the Leopards up by two with less than 3 seconds left.

Annie Wright's desperation shot was off and the Leopards began to celebrate.

"He’s got that dog in him," Zillah center Nic Navarre said shortly after he was announced as the tournament MVP after he finished a rebound shy of his third double-double in as many days. "I can’t believe this happened,  I’m forever grateful for this family."

Navarre had 10 points for the Leopards.

Amare Breedlove's 16 points led Gators (24-3), while Martin Kaupanger added 13 points and 10 rebounds.

The second-place trophy Annie Wright collected was the first hardware for the program which is just in its fifth year.