Seeding in a tournament is supposed to determine which teams are “better.” But that doesn’t take into account toughness, resiliency, and confidence.
Which is why the Ferndale boys basketball team is moving into the Class 3A District 1 quarterfinals after stunning Shorecrest, 72-63, on Tuesday night, Feb. 8.
“We came into the gym expecting to have a great game, and we followed the game plan really well,” said Ferndale coach Jason Owens. “We played a complete game and at this time of year, that’s what’s required.”
Ferndale advances to play the winner of a loser-out game on Thursday between Marysville-Pilchuck and Cascade (Everett). The contest will be at Ferndale’s gym on Saturday at 7 p.m. in what will be the official final game in the Eagles Nest before it is torn down for the new school’s new facility.
The Golden Eagles came into Tuesday’s opening-round game with a losing record, the seventh seed (out of 16), and with the memory of 24-point loss to the Scots in the two teams’ season opener. Shorecrest came in with a sparkling 17-2 record, the second seed, and a No.9 ranking in the latest Associated Poll state poll.
Add to that all the Golden Eagles have been through with injuries to two of their starters and a third, senior Sean Morrison, having brain surgery on Tuesday. In his honor, the team continues to wear warm-ups with Morrison’s number 2.
“With all the injuries and all the things we’ve been through, I told them, ‘Ain’t nothing that will happen tonight that we haven’t been through,’” said Owens. “We were playing with Sean on our hearts tonight.”
With another varsity player also unavailable, Ferndale was left with the Six Iron Eagles — seniors Mark Schlichting, Jazen Guillory and Luke Wells; juniors Damian Toney and Jewelz Terry; and sophomore Conner Walcker — who played the entire game.
After falling behind 8-0 to start the game, the Golden Eagles used their dangerous 3-point shooting to pull even. Schlichting’s nearly fullcourt, off-the-glass 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer put Ferndale up, 37-34.
Then, by holding the Scots to eight points in the third quarter and making another big run to start the fourth quarter, Ferndale built the lead up to 18 before a flurry of Shorecrest 3s in the final three minutes made the score more respectable.
In the end, Ferndale sank 10 3-pointers and hit nine of 10 free throws in the fourth period — and 14 of 17 for the game — to keep the Scots at bay.
As was often the case this season, there was no “star” for Ferndale but instead there was a constellation of all-around performances.
Toney led the extremely balanced attack with 16 points, Guillory had 15 points, Wells had 14 points and four 3-pointers, Walcker had 12 points, and Schlichting had 9 on a trio of 3s. Terry even came off the bench to hit a pair of big 3-pointers for his 6 points.
Elijah Johnson led Shorecrest with 30 points, hitting five 3-pointers.
“I asked them why everyone likes the NCAA (basketball) tournament,” said Owens. “Because it’s Cinderella time.”
Ferndale 72, Shorecrest 63
Ferndale 16 21 16 19—72
Shorecrest 21 13 8 21—63
Ferndale: Jewelz Terry 6, Mark Schlichting 9, Conner Walcker 12, Jazen Guillory 15, Luke Wells 14, Damian Toney 16.
Shorecrest: Keaine Silimon 2, Kai Cannady 5, Manolo Ramos Roque 5, Elijah Johnson 30, Disma Kagarabi 2, Devon Nehring 4, Parker Baumann 15, Gus Hamilton.
CLASS 3A DISTRICT 1 TOURNAMENT
Tuesday, Feb. 8
#9 Cascade (Everett) 65, #16 Lynnwood 53 (loser out)
#10 Edmonds-Woodway 58, #15 Snohomish 57 (loser out)
#11 Marysville-Getchell 62, #14 Shorewood 42 (loser out)
#13 Monroe 71, #12 Oak Harbor 62 (loser out)
#1 Arlington 65, #8 Marysville-Pilchuck 53
#7 Ferndale 72, #2 Shorecrest 63
#3 Stanwood 66, #6 Everett 49
#4 Mountlake Terrace 61, #5 Mount Vernon 55
Thursday, Feb. 10
Marysville-Getchell at Everett (loser out)
Edmonds-Woodway at Shorecrest (loser out)
Monroe at Mount Vernon (loser out)
Cascade (Everett) at Marysville-Pilchuck (loser out)
Saturday, Feb. 12
Marysville-Getchell-Everett winner at Mountlake Terrace
Edmonds-Woodway-Shorecrest winner at Arlington
Monroe-Mount Vernon winner at Stanwood
Cascade (Everett)-Marysville-Pilchuck winner at Ferndale
Wednesday, Feb. 16
Consolation games (losers out)
Saturday, Feb. 19
Consolation final (winners third, to state regionals, losers out)
Championship game (winner first, loser second, both to state regionals)
Jim Carberry is a former Bellingham Herald sports editor and author of several books on Whatcom County prep basketball. Follow him on Twitter @whatcomhoops and visit the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page.