The Squalicum boys basketball team played its most complete game of the season at Mount Baker’s expense as the Storm won the Northwest Conference contest, 68-42, on Friday, Jan. 13.
“This was our best game,” said Squalicum coach Tyler Hannigan, whose team improved to 5-9 overall and 3-6 in the NWC. “We were balanced between a lot of guys, and balanced in scoring a lot of different ways. It was the kind of game we wanted, more what we want our identity to be.”
The Storm scored inside with 6-foot-6 junior Peter Albert and 6-8 senior Leo Pavia combining for 12 points and outside with nine 3-pointers, four of them by senior Ashton Engelhart, and two each by fellow seniors Kyle Heaton and Xander Sledge.
Engelhart and Heaton finished with 14 points each to lead Squalicum, Sledge had 11, and sophomore Marcus Nixon came off the bench to score all 7 of his points in the fourth quarter. Engelhart and Sledge would add 3 assists each, and Albert had a game-high 11 rebounds.
“We’ve been playing better, but we were coming up short,” said Engelhart of the team’s five-game losing streak that they broke Friday. “This game meant a lot. We want to get on a little win streak. Our goal is to get to state.”
For the Mounties, the goal is to keep improving, which coach Tony Clark felt his team was doing.
“We’re getting better every game,” said Clark, whose squad fell to 2-10 overall and 0-8 in league. “We had some lapses, but it’s all about fighting to the end. We take pride in not giving up.”
There was no surrender in the Mounties, who are coming off a winless 2022 season, but they couldn’t stop the Storm from getting hot, especially to start the third quarter.
Down by 15 at the half, Mount Baker was ready to rally, but Squalicum stormed out on a 16-2 run to start the third period and end any doubt as to the outcome.
“They finally started hitting 3s and that gave them more confidence,” said Clark of the Squalicum sharp-shooters.
The Mounties were led by their youngsters. Freshman Joe Harward had 11 points and 8 rebounds, sophomore Luke Smith had 9, and freshman Carter Hill added 8.
The biggest cheer of the night, however, went to another freshman — Zachary Watt, who was playing his first game for the Squalicum varsity. With 4:07 left in the game, Watt made a three-point play to the delight of the Storm players — including Watt’s brother, senior starter Nick Watt — and the vocal Squalicum student body.
The Storm’s next game is Tuesday when they travel to Sedro-Woolley. Mount Baker’s next action is at home against Blaine on Monday.
Squalicum 68, Mount Baker 42
Mount Baker 8 13 6 15—42
Squalicum 17 19 19 13—68
Mount Baker: Smith 9, Wade 5, Je. Harward 6, Powell, Jo. Harward 11, Toner, Madera, K. Hill, C. Hill 8, Larson 3, Scott, Kruse.
Squalicum: Donnelly, Jacobs 2, Nixon 7, Singh 2, N. Watt 2, Nichols, Hofer, Smith, Engelhart 14, Sledge 12, Heaton 14, Z. Watt 3, Pavia 6, Albert 6.