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Boys basketball: Steady Sequim is state-bound
From hoop dreams to a reality, the Wolves are returning to the 2A state tournament.
After four years without a trip to state, Sequim held off a resilient Hockinson Hawks (14-11 overall) on Saturday, Feb. 23, for the 51-48 win.
“All those hours in the gym paid off,” Gabe Carter said to a crowded locker room of family and fans after the win in Kent-Meridian High School.
“My whole dream has been to get to state.”
They advance to play the Renton Indians (23-2 overall) at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, in the Yakima Sun Dome.
Carter came out firing on all cylinders as he sank three 3-pointers in the first period to push Sequim's first period lead to 21-10.
Following the district regional finals loss to the Clover Park Warriors last week, Carter said he felt he didn't shoot well and wanted to make more of an impact offensively. Against the Hawks, he scored 11 points, all in the first period, before becoming more of a distributor to finish the game with five assists.
Jayson Brocklesby set the tone early in the second period with a steal and by scoring Sequim's next six points.
Sequim continued to push and led 32-17 at halftime. Their lead ballooned to 18 at one point in the third period highlighted by a behind-the-back-pass from Carter to Brocklesby for a layup.
But Sequim began committing turnovers and Hockinson was connecting on 3-pointers and free throws led by Jack Klodt, who scored 25 points for the game.
Sequim's Anthony Pinza helped break up a Hawks' run in the third with two free throws and a 3-pointer. But Hockinson continued its rally to cut Sequim's lead to 43-34 at the end of the third period.
The Hawks' run continued into the fourth as they cut Sequim's lead to just two with less than four minutes to go.
But Rory Kallappa stepped up to hit six free throws down the stretch, maintaining Sequim's lead over several possessions.
Hockinson continued to push hard with Klodt and Alan Haagen, who scored 10 in the game, into the fourth against Brocklesby, Sequim's leading scorer, who couldn't find a rhythm with constant double teams and hard fouls.
He was fouled hard on a jump shot with 1:02 to go and Sequim up 51-48.
Brocklesby missed both free throws but got a second chance after Hockinson failed to connect following a steal. He received the inbound pass and was intentionally fouled but missed two more free throws with 6.2 seconds to go.
The Wolves pressured Hockinson to miss a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Head coach Greg Glasser gave credit to Hockinson.
“They are here for a reason,” he said. “They played three loser-out games and they made it a lot harder in the second half.”
With the win, Sequim looks to place at state on the 2A level for the first time.
“Some people don't understand how rare this is for a small school like us,” said assistant coach Larry Hill.
The Wolves went to state in 2007 and 2009 but went 1-4 at the 2A level. The highest the Wolves placed was second at the 1988 3A state tournament. Sequim moved down from 3A in 2006-2007 season.
Pinza said for Sequim to go the state tournament means a lot to him and his family who will make the special trip to Yakima.
“I've wanted to do this (go to state) since day one,” he said.
Sequim faces a tough but beatable Renton, which lost to Sumner 55-53 on Feb. 15 in the regional districts, and which Sequim beat in the semi-finals 55-48 the next day. In the consolation bracket, Renton beat Franklin Pierce 62-50 on Feb. 16 and then clobbered River Ridge (Lacey) 73-57 to advance to state.
Whoever wins advances to play the winner of the Pullman and Burlington-Edison game.
Hit the gym
After the game, players were ecstatic for the chance to go to state but felt some of their individual games needed work.
Brocklesby said he plans to work on his free throws this week.
Through the five games of the playoffs, he's shot 14 of 30 and as a team Sequim shot 63-100.
When Brocklesby lined up for his first free throw in the fourth period and missed it, he told himself, "Shoot, they can make a three and tie it up."
He considers himself a streaky free throw shooter and said missing the first free throw in the fourth did affect him a little.
“It's a matter of mind over matter,” he said.
The Hawks' hard defense focused largely on Brocklesby, too, with arm scratches to show for it. At one point in the fourth, Hockinson fouled Brocklesby hard, which led to a brief altercation.
“I normally shake it off,” he said, "but they were scraping and stepping on my feet the whole game.”
Kallappa said improved free throws and developing his skills under the basket are on his to-do list even though he shot a solid 7-of-8 from the free throw line. His one regret was missing one of two free throws at the end of the first half.
“I like the pressure,” he said. “I feel like I'll perform better under bigger circumstances. (Going to) state makes it even better.”