Who would have thought the Ferndale boys basketball team would be going to state after starting the season 1-7 and losing three starters to injuries or sickness? The Golden Eagles, that’s who.
Ferndale is a team on a mission and despite a season full of challenges, the Golden Eagles won three straight games at district to earn the 18th seed at state despite an 11-11 record.
(Note: Because Class 3A has far more schools than any of the other classification, the 3A state tournament has 20 teams instead of 16 and an extra play-in round.)
Check out Whatcom Hoops the rest of the week for previews of the Class 1B boys, Class 1A boys and girls, and 2A boys and girls state regionals.
Now the Golden Eagles are looking to show not just the Northwest corner of the state but the entire state the determination that helped this team earn a state berth for only the fourth time in school history.
The road to winning the second trophy in school history — accomplished in Ferndale’s last trip to state in 1996 — won’t be easy and will be long. The Golden Eagles (11-11) start the play-in portion of the tournament on the home court of 15th-seed Kennewick (15-8) on Tuesday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m..
If Ferndale should win the loser-out game, the Golden Eagles would return to the west side to play No.10-seed Lake Washington (17-4) in a loser-out regional contest at Bellevue Community College at 6 p.m. on Friday. The winner of that game advances to the Tacoma Dome for the first round of the state tournament on Wednesday.
Here’s a look at both teams and the 1A boys state tournament:
FERNDALE GOLDEN EAGLES
Record: 11-11 (#18 seed)
Starters: Mark Schlichting, F, Sr., 6-3; Conner Walcker, F, So., 6-3; Jazen Guillory, G, Sr., 6-3; Luke Wells, G, Sr., 6-0; Damian Toney, F, Jr. 6-5.
Reserves: Jewelz Terry, G, Jr., 5-10; Lucas Mills, F, Jr., 6-1; Ethan Lagerwey, G, Sr., 5-9; Xander Castleberry, C, Sr., 6-6; Nate Tsegaye, G, Sr., 5-8; Mathias Johnson, G, Jr., 5-11; Bishop Ootsey, G, So., 6-0.
Team preview: Ferndale isn’t big, quick or super athletic. But what the Golden Eagles do, they do extremely well. They control the tempo thanks to point guard supreme Guillory who leads the state in assists, hit a barrage of 3-pointers thanks to sharpshooters Schlichting and Wells, and play physical defense and rebound thanks to Toney and Walcker. All five average in double figures. And if determination in the face of adversity earned them points on the scoreboard, the Golden Eagles would be undefeated.
State outlook: How can you pick a team that had a losing record just a week ago to do well against some of the best teams in the state? Then again, how can you not love these Golden Eagles, who already have played nine games against teams that have qualified for their state tournaments? If Ferndale can avoid foul trouble, injuries, or a cold shooting night, the Golden Eagles could keep their amazing story going at least to the Tacoma Dome next week.
Coach Jason Owens: “We are a team that is already overachieving. We know there is nothing that will happen on that court that we haven’t already faced, and we have been through so much as a team off the court. We believe! We understand that it is so much more than a game. So we just come to work every day, believing that anything can happen, and we are grateful for the opportunity and hungry to continue this dream season.”
CLASS 3A STATE PLAY-IN GAMES
Tuesday, Feb. 22
#20 Evergreen (Vancouver) (11-13) at #13 Arlington (17-5), 6 p.m. (winner to state regionals, loser out)
#17 Shorecrest (20-4) at #16 Kelso (14-8), 7 p.m. (winner to state regionals, loser out)
#18 Ferndale (11-11) at #15 Kennewick (15-8), 7 p.m. (winner to state regionals, loser out)
#19 Spanaway Lake (11-13) at #14 Eastside Catholic (17-9), 8 p.m. (winner to state regionals, loser out)
Friday, Feb. 25
#2 Auburn (23-1) vs. #7 Mount Spokane (20-5) at Puyallup HS, 6 p.m. (both to state tournament)
#10 Lake Washington (17-4) vs. Ferndale-Kennewick winner at Bellevue CC, 6 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#11 Mount Tahoma (17-5) vs. Eastside Catholic-Spanaway Lake winner at Foss HS, 8 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
Saturday, Feb. 26
#3 O’Dea (20-6) vs. #6 Gig Harbor (22-2) at Bellevue CC, 10 a.m. (both to state tournament)
#4 Rainier Beach (18-3) vs. #5 Seattle Prep (19-6) at Lake Washington HS, noon (both to state tournament)
#12 Ferris (16-5) vs. Arlington-Evergreen (Vancouver) winner at Central Valley HS, 4 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#1 Garfield (21-0) vs. #8 Timberline (17-4) at Bellevue CC, 6 p.m. (both to state tournament)
#9 Mountlake Terrace (17-2) vs. Kelso-Shorecrest winner at Jackson HS, 6 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
At Tacoma Dome
Wednesday-Saturday, March 2-5