Sequim got a gut check over winter break — and it had nothing to do with a big holiday meal.
The Wolves (3-2 in Olympic League play, 7-4 overall) overcame a double-digit first quarter deficit and nine-point second half hole to knock off 3A Ferndale 61-59 on Dec. 28, in the opener of Port Townsend’s Crush the Slush tourney.
“We put (ourselves) in a close game and had to grind it out,” Sequim coach Greg Glasser said. “That’s a good thing, especially against a Whatcom County team.”
Riley Cowan had a breakout game with a game-high 27 points while Nate Despain added 14 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
“It was good to get back on track after three losses in a row,” Despain said.
“I think we really pushed the pace and were moving the ball in transition.”
Ferndale, on the strength of solid guard play from Sean Le and inside/outside work from Larson Fairbairn, held a 19-12 lead after one quarter and 29-24 at halftime.
But Sequim, backed by key shooting from Despain and Kyler Rollness and Cowan attacking the hoop, chipped away at the Ferndale lead with a 23-16 third quarter to take a 47-45 lead.
The Wolves turned the proverbial corner after Fairbairn got into foul trouble and Ferndale coach Jason Owens earned a double technical and early exit late in the second half.
Despite missing three key free throws down the stretch and earned a technical foul in the waning moments, Sequim pulled out the two-point win.
“We were very composed and poised,” Glasser said. “Our guys kept battling (early on).”
“It was great to pull out a win especially with how hard we’ve worked,” Despain said.
The Sequim coach had high praise for Cowan, whose previous point total high this season was 16 (against North Mason on Dec. 7).
“When Riley gets going it does wonders for our confidence,” Glasser said.
Added Despain, “It’s definitely huge to have (Riley) attack it from the middle.”
While Cowan was creating problems for Ferndale posts on the perimeter and inside, Rollness spotted up for a trio of corner 3-pointers; he finished with 11 points. Rollness added a team-high four steals on the defensive end.
“Kyler is real consistent shooter for us (and he) definitely brings such energy.”
Ripping the Redhawks
A day later, Sequim book-ended the tournament with a 63-36 win over host 1A Port Townsend.
With a banged-up Despain sitting on the bench nursing quad and elbow injuries, Sequim took a 36-27 lead into the halftime and then out-scored the Redhawks 27-9 in the second half.
“It was good to get a couple of wins,” said Sequim coach Greg Glasser.
After posting 27 points in the tourney opener, Cowan handled much of the ball-handling responsibilities — and it led to another breakout game, this one from post Hayden Eaton. The 6-foot-4 sophomore led the Wolves with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Reserve Blake Wiker hit four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points while Keeshawn Whitney had eight.
Rollness had five assists and Cowan added four. Michael Young added six rebounds.
“Ferndale wasn’t pretty, but we figured out a way to win,” Glasser said. “(The Port Townsend game) was fun with other guys contributing in big ways. The team really came together as a group in this tournament.”
Noa Montoya and Jaden Watkins led the Redhawks with 12 points apiece.
Sequim boys join the SHS girls for a varsity double-header at Port Angeles on Jan. 8. The boys host Kingston Jan. 11 and play at North Mason on Jan. 15.
Sequim plays at Klahowya on Jan. 16, a makeup game from earlier this season.
Pierre LaBossiere, Peninsula Daily News sports editor, contributed to this report.