When Northwest Conference champion Anacortes was eliminated from the Class 2A boys basketball state tournament barely an hour earlier, it should have been a warning to the Sehome Mariners: If you don’t play your best, you won’t last long in Yakima.
The Mariners didn’t play their best and they were the second NWC team sent home after losing to North Kitsap, 58-55, in the “round of 12” loser-out game in the SunDome on Wednesday afternoon, March 1.
“If you give up offensive rebounds and foul, you aren’t going to win … that’s the bottom line,” said Sehome coach Brad Jackson. “We had our chances. But unfortunately, that’s the way we’ve played our last three games.”
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The loss ended a successful season for the fifth-seeded Mariners, who finished 18-6. They ended the regular season and the first two games at district with seven straight wins, including victories over state contenders Lynden Christian, Lynden, and Blaine.
But then came the last three games, which included a 10-point loss to Anacortes in the district final, a 12-point loss to fourth-seeded Mark Morris, and then Wednesday’s loss to the 13th-seeded Vikings, which left a bitter taste in their mouths.
“We couldn’t get in a groove,” said Isaac Lawrence, one of nine Sehome seniors. “They made some big shots and we didn’t rebound. You can’t give a good team that many times. We needed that rebound.”
Specifically, the Mariners needed a rebound in the last two minutes. After battling foul trouble and a tough North Kitsap team through most of the game, Sehome finally overcame an eight-point deficit and took a 55-53 lead on two Mat Storms free throws with 1:50 left.
But then things fell apart. North Kitsap’s Cade Oiness went baseline to tie the score. Then came the bad luck.
After a Sehome miss, North Kitsap’s Harry Davies, who had been hitting 3s all afternoon, finally missed one. The ball bounced wildly, hands went up, and it looked like Sehome would get the ball back with a chance to win.
Instead, in the struggle, the ball tipped up … and went in. North Kitsap’s Ethan Gillespie got credit for the bucket but it might have been an own goal. Regardless, the Mariners were behind by two.
They had two more chances in the final seconds.
Grant Kepley’s 3-point attempt was off and, after North Kitsap gave Sehome one last opportunity at a miracle by only making one of four free throws, Grey Garrison’s deep 3 at the buzzer came up short. And Sehome’s season was cut short.
“We made so many memories,” said Lawrence. “Thirteen of us are best friends. It just didn’t end the way we wanted. Down the line … it might be days, it might be weeks, it might be years. But we can reflect on all the positives. We should be proud.”
As usual, the Mariners were led by their seniors. Garrison had a team-high 12 points despite having to sit out all but four minutes of the first half because of foul trouble. Kepley had 11 points, and Storms added 10.
Sehome also got good games from two reserves. Junior Braddock Duckworth had 8 points and 7 rebounds, and feisty freshman Nolan Wright had 9 points and hit a pair of big 3-pointers.
But the stats that Jackson referred to did not favor the Mariners.
North Kitsap outrebounded the taller Mariners, 30-27, and the Mariners gave up a fatal 15 offensive rebounds. Sehome also was called for 21 fouls to North Kitsap’s 12, and the Vikings made the Mariners pay by hitting 14 of their first 16 free throws.
“I told them, ‘You can be proud,’” said Jackson. “You didn’t do what you wanted, but it was still a great year. It was a privilege to coach these kids. I’m proud of what they’ve done.”
In addition to Lawrence, Garrison, Kepley, and Storms, Sehome’s other seniors were Dane Dominguez, Eli Daheim, Kai Swanson, Tommy Funk, and Nate Eisses.
North Kitsap 58, Sehome 55
North Kitsap 12 17 15 14—58
Sehome 16 12 14 13—55
North Kitsap: Jalen East 2, Mason Chmielewski 3, Ethan Gillespie 7, Cade Orness 21, Noah Sorensen, Harry Davies 25, Jay Ashford-Downing.
Sehome: Isaac Lawrence 5, Grey Garrison 12, Braddock Duckworth 8, Mat Storms 10, Kai Swanson, Tommy Funk, Dane Dominguez, Nolan Wright 9, Grant Kepley 11, Nate Eisses.
CLASS 2A STATE TOURNAMENT
At Yakima Valley SunDome
Wednesday, March 1
Round of 12
#11 Tumwater 56, #3 Renton 53 (loser out)
#10 Enumclaw 63, #2 Anacortes 41 (loser out)
#13 North Kitsap 58, #5 Sehome 55 (loser out)
#8 RA Long 56, #9 West Valley (Spokane) 39 (loser out)
Thursday, March 2
#4 Mark Morris (23-2) vs. Tumwater (20-5), 9 a.m.
#1 Pullman (24-0) vs. Enumclaw (22-3), 10:30 a.m.
#6 Lynden (21-4) vs. North Kitsap (19-7), 12:15 p.m.
#7 Prosser (19-4) vs. RA Long (21-5), 2 p.m.
Friday, March 3
Tumwater-Mark Morris loser vs. Pullman-Enumclaw loser, 9 a.m. (loser out)
Lynden-North Kitsap loser vs. Prosser-RA Long loser, 10:30 a.m. (loser out)
Tumwater-Mark Morris winner vs. Pullman-Enumclaw winner, 3:45 p.m.
Lynden-North Kitsap winner vs. Prosser-RA Long winner, 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 4
Consolation game, 8 a.m. (winner fourth, loser sixth)
Consolation final, 11:15 a.m. (winner third, loser fifth)
Championship game, 9 p.m. (winner first, loser second)