Sometimes being the coach’s kid is a blessing and a curse at the same time.
“Someone else is watching, and thinks, ‘You shouldn’t be out there. You’re the coach’s kid’,” says Sequim High senior Payton Glasser. “I tried to work harder because of it.”
And while his talent and love for the game was apparent to Greg Glasser, Payton’s dad and coach for the past four years, the elder Glasser had concerns about starting his son on the varsity squad as a ninth-grader in late fall of 2014.
“I was questioning, ‘Is this the right spot? The right place?’” Greg remembers.
So the Sequim coach turned to Fred Harrison, an NWAC Hall of Fame basketball coach at Highline Community College, who gave him two words of advice: “Play him.”
Four years later, Greg says, “I didn’t look back. I’m glad I didn’t. He bought into his role and did what I asked.”
After years of living vicariously through his dad’s successful prep squads to playing with a district tourney-level team as a freshman followed by two postseason-less seasons, Payton and Greg Glasser have come full circle.
Last week, led by Payton’s 20.4 points per game, the Wolves locked down their first district tournament berth since that 2014-2015 campaign.
“I’m so glad to be back (in the postseason),” says Payton, an all-Olympic League first team guard in 2016-2017. “We’ve worked for it.”
“This is a goal we had at the beginning of the year,” Greg Glasser says. “We want to make some noise at districts. I think we have the potential to do it.”
Playing the role
Looking back, it seems like every toy in the house was a ball, the father says.
“It was something to throw. He loved it,” Greg Glasser says. “He really enjoyed the sport (of basketball) but his first love, I think, was football.”
By fifth and sixth grade, however, Payton was showing an aptitude for hoops. He played for Ron Sather’s fifth-and sixth-grade select team and, when he had a chance, joined his dad as the Wolves’ high school varsity team began a successful postseason run. After missing the playoffs in his first year in 2007-2008, Greg led the Wolves to districts and then state behind the sharp shooting of Ary Webb and athletic play from John Textor.
Back-to-back-to back postseason berths followed, a return to the state tourney in 2012-2013, and another district tourney berth in 2013-2014.
“(Payton) took a liking to just the atmosphere here in Sequim,” the Sequim coach recalls. “Every year he connected with someone new. He loved going to state tournament or the district tournament.”
“It was a dream come true to be around those teams,” Payton says, recalling connections with Textor and Clancy Catelli and the Webb brothers (Ary and Corbin).
“(I saw) what it takes to become great, gave me a sense of what I have to do … so much fun,” Payton says.
Then came time for Payton’s first year with the high school team. The youngster was unsure of where he fit in, however.
“I wasn’t sure I was going to play on varsity, or whether I’d be playing much,” he recalls.
Greg plugged him in the shooting guard spot and it seemed to relieve the elder Glasser’s concerns. Payton hit seven of nine shots from the field and had 14 points in a 64-33 shellacking of Klahowya on Dec. 5, 2014.
“From there I just kept working,” Payton says.
While his first game showed he could score, Payton’s role was very much complimentary to the focus of the Wolves’ offense. Alex Barry would go on to be named Olympic League MVP after putting up a monster stat line of 20.3 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.7 steals, 3.3 assists and 2.5 blocks per game.
Payton’s role, like others on the squad, was primarily to get the ball to Barry, the team’s top player.
“(We were) glad to have him as that great role player,” says Barry, now a junior at Western Washington University. “He did what the team needed to be successful.”
That year was key to Payton’s development, Greg says, in that it opened his mind to the concept that there are roles to play on the floor, and accepting them can make a team successful.
That year’s Wolves squad went 16-8 overall and 2-2 in district play, coming within a win of another state appearance.
Payton, who connected in particular with Barry, Vance Willis and Alex Rutherford that season, says he knew his role would change dramatically the following season, with just himself and Jackson Oliver returning to the squad.
With just two returning players the Wolves struggled in 2015-2016, falling to 2-10 in Olympic League play and 6-14 overall. No Sequim player was named to the all-league squad.
In 2016-2017, despite Payton’s all-league first team effort of 17.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest, Sequim finished last in the Olympic League with a 1-11 league mark, 5-15 overall.
“It was tough for him,” Greg Glasser says. “Growing up, all he saw was district tournament, district tournament. He took it real personally. I think he was pretty determined (this year).”
During that junior season, Payton got some encouragement from his mom Kim, who told him, “Next year is going to be a winning season.”
Battling for the playoffs
The skill Payton has that isn’t obvious to some people, his coach/father says, is his hands.
“One thing Payton could do (really well) is hang on to the ball,” Greg says. “He’s very strong with the ball, probably our best catcher. He was as a freshman. He won’t let people take it away from him.”
That’s helped round out the game for Payton, a 6-foot-5 combo guard who at 200 pounds can muscle up inside for baskets as well as hit from longer ranges.
“I take what the defense gives me,” Payton says.
Rather than model his game after pro or college players, Payton says he’s taken the best of what he saw up close from former Wolves stars like Barry, Jason Brocklesby and Gabe Carter.
“He’s got a lot of potential,” says Barry. “Definitely a good chance to play at the next level.”
Before he can consider that, Payton and the Wolves have plenty in front of them. Behind their star guard’s efforts — as of Jan. 25, 20.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game with and nine blocks, all team-highs, plus 27 steals and 19 assists — along with solid contributions from guard Nate Despain (10.7 points per game, a team-high 3.3 steals and 2.9 assists), forward Riley Cowan (5.6 points, 5.7 rebounds per game) and others, Sequim is locked into the Olympic League’s No. 4 seed to districts and look to make some noise despite having the league’s final postseason berth.
“I don’t think we’ll get too much respect,” the Sequim High senior says.
To get that respect, Payton will be banking on elbow grease and years of watching Sequim’s prep stars.
“I saw what it took (but) I had to work toward that,” Payton says.