Whatcom County’s two Class 3A boys basketball teams traded knock-out punches, and it took overtime for Ferndale to prevail at Squalicum, 69-67, on Thursday, Dec. 19.
“It was a hard-fought game by both teams,” said Squalicum coach Dave Dickson of the heavyweight Northwest Conference game. “It took overtime for Ferndale to make one more play than us.”
It was quite a turnaround from last year’s contest, a 35-point Ferndale victory. But then Thursday’s game was filled with turnarounds.
Squalicum (2-3 overall, 0-2 in league) broke away with a 24-point second quarter — 10 of them from senior guard Devante Powell — and led by 18 at halftime. It was a big shock to the young Golden Eagles, who only have two players with varsity experience.
“We’ve got freshmen and sophomores playing a league game in front of a big crowd,” said Ferndale coach Jason Owens. “They were tentative, nervous. But how you respond to adversity is what you’ll become.”
If that’s the case, the Golden Eagles (5-2 overall, 2-0 in league) became veterans in the second half. They turned up the defensive pressure, using their presses to put together a 20-2 run and eventually pulled ahead, 59-54, with three minutes to go.
But Squalicum, which edged Ferndale for the final 3A district playoff spot last year, didn’t back down. The Storm rallied in the final minute, tying the game on Powell’s 3-pointer that bounced high off the backboard and rattled around the rim before falling through with 29 seconds left to force overtime.
“Theirs is a veteran group,” said Owens. “They didn’t fold. “
But neither did the young Golden Eagles.
In overtime, freshman Isaiah Carlson hit two free throws and muscled inside for another basket to give Ferndale the lead, and Squalicum missed two shots in the final 10 seconds that would have forced another overtime.
“We knew they were coming for revenge,” said Ferndale sophomore Jazen Guillory. “Give them credit. But we’re going to fight to the end. We showed what we can do.”
Guillory certainly showed what he can do. The sophomore point guard had 19 points, was a terror on defense, and effectively ran a balanced Ferndale offense that had all five starters scoring in double figures.
Carlson had 16 points, including 8-for-8 from the line, Andrew Monks added 13 points, Mark Schlichting had 11, and Jesse Sapp had 10.
The Storm countered with 21 points from Powell, 17 from Dedrick Mitchell and 12 from Leland Zender, the 6-foot-7 center who was limited to two points after halftime because of foul trouble.
“We can’t hang our heads,” said Powell. “We love to battle. We work hard. This will make us strive to work harder.”