The Wolves had to win their way at state to put Sequim on the map.
Last weekend, the boys basketball team took home the sixth-place trophy for its highest finish ever in the 2A state tournament and best finish since placing second at state in the 3A tourney in 1988.
Sequim High senior Gabe Carter said the team is happy with the end result.
“Of course we wanted to win it all but our goal before the season was to get to state and place,” Carter said. “Not many people even know where Sequim is.”
At the Yakima Sun Dome, Sequim finished 1-2 with a shocking buzzer-beater loss to Renton, overcoming a giant’s record-setting game from Burlington-Edison and staring down an anti-climactic rematch against Clover Park.
The Wolves last went to state in 2007 and 2009. This winter, the Wolves emerged as one of the top teams in the state and one the best in SHS history. They went undefeated at home, never lost two games in a row and posted the most wins (22) since 1987-1988.
Sequim junior Anthony Pinza said to be one of Sequim’s top basketball squads is quite an achievement.
“We set that goal to place at state and to do it felt good,” Pinza said.
Sequim head coach Greg Glasser said the Wolves’ three preseason goals included winning the Olympic League (sharing the title with the Olympic Trojans), placing high at districts (they took second) and placing at the state tourney.
“I’m happy these guys accomplished the goals they set out to do,” Glasser said. “All that time and hard work paid off for them.”
What could have been a great come-from-behind-victory quickly crumbled for the Wolves after a miracle shot from Renton’s Zach Lee. He swished in the victory in overtime for the Indians with a straight-on half court 3-pointer as time expired.
After the first period, the Wolves had to work their way out of a 14-6 slump to keep pace with the Indians through three periods. But with just over 2 minutes to go in the fourth, Sequim went on a scoring drought after going up by as much as seven points with 2:27 to go.
Renton’s Lee and Shykiel Milord both made a 2-pointers and their teammates sank free throws to send it into overtime.
For Sequim’s first overtime game, the team looked good behind Alex Barry giving the Wolves the lead with a 3-point play 52-51 early on. Lavelle Smith led Renton with five points in overtime and 17 in the game.
Rory Kallappa nailed a 2-pointer cutting Renton’s lead to one point with 42 seconds to go and Pinza sank two late free throws tying the game at 56-56. But Sequim committed two costly turnovers setting the stage for Lee’s long shot. He redeemed himself after missing a a game-winning shot at the end of regulation.
Renton’s win placed them against eventual state champs the Pullman Greyhounds. Renton lost 51-41 and then to the Lynden Lions 64-41 to take fifth place.
Jayson Brocklesby led Sequim with 16 points and improved his free throw shooting to sink six of eight. Despite two early fouls, Barry recovered to score 13 and Carter 12.
In the consolation bracket, both Sequim and the Burlington-Edison Tigers had something to prove.
The Tigers came off a 56-36 loss to Pullman the day before and big man Austin Von Herbulis rebounded with a vengeance for Burlington-Edison. State sources report he achieved the single game record with 27 rebounds, 15 of those on the offensive glass.
Sequim found itself in another early deficit down 13-6 at the end of the first period and at halftime down 24-18.
Brocklesby led a second-half charge by drawing fouls and getting to the line. Brocklesby continued to shoot well making 10-of-15 from the line and scoring 20 points in the contest. Sequim made 17 of 25 free throws.
Despite Von Herbulis’ five blocks, Sequim continued to go at the Tiger big man, who fouled out with just over one minute left in the game.
The Wolves went up by as much as eight in the fourth period and Barry, Carter and Pinza nailed clutch free throws. Burlington-Edison had a shot before the buzzer to tie but Isaak Davies missed a 3-pointer.
Sequim notched 43 rebounds compared to Burlington-Edison’s 52 with Carter grabbing 12 rebounds and Kallappa eight boards.
Glasser said he was proud of how Sequim held its composure following the loss to Renton.
The Clover Park Warriors (22-7) took home fourth place for consecutive years with another dominant win against the Wolves, who finished 22-6 on the season.
They played each other last on Feb. 18 at the ShoWare Center in Kent where Clover Park outscored Sequim 60-45 for the West Central District championship.
The Warriors led through the whole game behind Phillip Winston’s 23 points and 9/10 field goal shooting, and David Crisp’s 16 points.
The Wolves fell behind early 21-14 at the end of the first and couldn’t recover.
Brocklesby scored 15 points to lead Sequim.
Glasser said one of his highlights was to see Andrew Shimer and Jedd Posadas, two role players, get quality playing time against Clover Park.
“You always hope to finish the season on a positive note,” Glasser said.
The Wolves say goodbye to seven seniors — Brocklesby, Carter, Posadas, Shimer, Dylan Eekhoff, Tim Guan, and Donovan Lee. Some of these players focused solely on basketball year-round and some, like Brocklesby, turn to spring sports.
“It’ll be weird not doing something after school,” Guan said.
With four returning players in the regular rotation — Barry, Pinza, Kallappa and Erik Christensen — Pinza said he feels a return trip to the state tournament is possible.
“We can do as well, but it’ll be hard,” Pinza said. “We can get there. We just need to be in the gym more.”
Barry, a sophomore, said the experience at state was great.
“We have four players back for sure (next year) and we’ll have to make up for the missing seniors. We could get there but we’ll have to grow more as a team,” he said.
Glasser said he hopes this year’s team inspires future Sequim squads to achieve such as this year’s seniors who followed the 2009 SHS state tourney team.
“This year’s seniors were in eighth grade then, watching that (2009) team excel,” Glasser said. “That made a ripple effect (in the program). I hope we can continue that. We want this to happen every year, not every 25 years.”