The Sehome and Squalicum boys basketball teams learned that nothing comes free and easy when Northwest Conference rivals square off.
For Sehome, the 59-51 victory on Tuesday night, May 25, was anything but easy as the host Mariners had to fight off the winless Storm again and again to stay unbeaten.
“We want to play physical, and we showed great signs in that first half,” said Sehome coach Skyler Gillispie, whose squad improved to 3-0 thanks to a 38-point first half. “But we knew they were going to punch us in the chin. We won, but we’ve got to learn how to finish (a game).”
For Squalicum, which fell to 0-4, an early 13-2 hole proved too big to overcome even though the scrappy Storm cut a 17-point halftime deficit down to 56-51 with under a minute to go thanks to a 22-point fourth period.
“They are working hard, and that’s all we can ask of them,” said first-year Storm coach Tyler Hannigan. “They showed resiliency by bouncing back. Unfortunately, we didn’t make our free throws.”
Ah, yes, free throws. The Storm learned that free throws — at least missed free throws — can actually be quite costly as they only made 9 of 26. With Sehome making 18 of 24, the difference from the line accounted for the difference in the score.
That truly showed in the fourth period, when Sehome only managed two field goals but made 12 of 17 free throws. Squalicum, meanwhile, missed 6 of 8 at the line.
Sehome’s formula for victory continued to be playing physical on both ends and using a balanced scoring attack. Nine different Mariners scored with senior Micah Daheim, junior Gavin Ortega and sophomore Mathew Storms each having 10 points.
“We’re really grateful just to have a season,” said Sehome senior Elliott Tanovan, who added 8 points. “Our goal is to go undefeated, but aside from that, we want to do what we do best: play tight defense and control the boards.”
For Squalicum, it was another growing experience for an inexperienced squad coming into a crazy, COVID year that has allowed teams only a limited amount of practices.
“We only have two guys with any varsity experience,” said Hannigan. “So there’s a learning curve and not much time. We want to be improving, and we’ve been doing that. Hopefully, at some point, that will translate into wins.”
Junior Reed Richardson continued to lead the Storm in scoring with a team-high 15 points. Junior Kai Posey had 8 points, and seniors Leland Zender and Mason Binning added 7 each.
Zender, the team’s only returning starter, acknowledged that the situation hasn’t been easy for anyone, especially the seniors, but he chose to look at the bright side.
“We have a young team,” said Zender. “We just want to have a good experience.”
Squalicum will be in action again on Saturday, when the Storm travels to Lynden. Sehome is at Meridian on Thursday before hosting Mount Baker on Saturday.