For Sequim’s boys, something special happens in the unfriendly confines of Port Townsend’s gymnasium.
Last season, it was a three-game sweep at the Crush the Slush tournament. This season saw the Wolves take down the previously perfect Redskins in a game players and coaches alike admit may change the course of Sequim’s already bumpy season.
Ary Webb scored 19 points while Nic Thacker added 17 points and 12 rebounds as Sequim (3-3 in league, 4-6 overall) upset the red-hot Redskins 56-46 on Jan. 4, halting the Wolves’ three-game losing streak and five losses in six games.
"We’ve been building for it all year," Sequim coach Greg Glasser said following the victory. "(The players) were tired of taking strides. That was growing for a while."
The effort came first and foremost on the defensive end, where Sequim forward Clancy Catelli relentlessly bothered senior Aaron Gifford, P.T.’s scoring whiz. The 6-foot-5 Redskin shooter managed 17 points but many of them came through double- and triple-team defensive efforts or from the free throw line.
Meanwhile, Redskin post Parker McClelland had his hands full with Mike Silliman, Sequim’s post who returned to the court for the first time this season after knee surgery.
Besides badgering McClelland and Gifford inside, Silliman had three blocks, six rebounds and five points.
"I’m back, I’m strong," Silliman said, noting his knee felt healthy following the game. "I’m stoked. We proved to ourselves we are a team. I don’t think anyone respects us. I don’t care. That’s where I like to be."
Glasser said of the big man: "(He was) a little nervous out there tonight. He’s going to get a lot better."
That may be bad news for the rest of the Olympic League, considering how Sequim dismantled a Redskin team many consider the class of the league in 2A or 3A rankings.
The Wolves used a punishing defense and, for perhaps the first time this season, true patience on offense, swinging the ball around to spread the floor and looking for drives to the hoop and back-door cuts. Sequim built a 16-5 lead in the first quarter and 30-16 lead by halftime.
With Webb and Dalton Thacker handling much of the ball-handling responsibilities, Sequim slowed the pace in the third quarter. Thacker, the freshman guard, had his best game of the early season passing-wise, collecting eight of Sequim’s 11 assists and turning the ball over only twice.
Meanwhile, despite glimpses of Gifford’s knack for scoring, the Wolves clamped down on him and McClelland, putting pressure on P.T. guard Dakotah Pine and other Redskins to find the basket. They rarely did.
After a pair of Nic Thacker free throws gave Sequim its biggest lead at 50-32 with 2:36 remaining, the Redskins showed why they’re so dangerous. McClelland hit a shot, Elan Solvik followed with a three-pointer and Gifford added a long-range bomb, trimming the lead to 10 points with 1:15 to go.
But Webb hit five of six free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
"They’re loaded with guys who can score, handle the ball and get to the basket," Glasser said of Port Townsend. "That could have been a big deflator."
Webb finished with 5-of-7 shooting from the field and hit seven of eight at the line; Sequim shot 54 percent from the field for the game.
Glasser said he likes what he saw last week, particularly after losing all three contests inside Port Townsend’s gym at this season’s Crush the Slush tourney in late December.
"We really felt like we made some strides at the (tournament)," he said. "We came together in the Cedarcrest game."
The one they lost by 21 points? Same one. It hardly seemed to matter Friday night, as the Wolves bounded up and down the floor with a renewed energy that seemed completely in control.
Catelli said the Wolves need to play like they did Friday night to run with the contenders in the Olympic League.
"We need) intensity, having a mind-set we’re going to win the game," he said.
The Wolves were slated to take on league leader North Mason (5-0 in league, 9-0 overall) at home Jan. 8 – results were unavailable at press time. Sequim travels to Bremerton Jan. 11 to battle the Knights (3-3, 3-7).