by MATTHEW NASH
To win their first playoff game in two years, the Lady Wolves (5-7 in league, 9-11 overall) will need to do it against the third-ranked team in the state.
With the fifth and final seed from the Olympic League, they’ll face the White River Hornets (18-2 overall), also the No. 1 seed out of the 2A South Puget Sound League, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, in Buckley.
Sequim lost its final game of the season at North Kitsap 52-36 on Feb. 3 setting up the tough match-up with the Hornets who finished fourth last year in the 2014 2A state bracket.
While Wolves head coach Evan Still said this opening match-up isn’t where he’d like to be, he added, “We’re happy to be in the playoffs. We just wish we were higher up.”
Finishing their last five games 1-4, the Wolves slipped behind the North Kitsap Vikings (7-5, 11-7), the No. 3 seed, who play the Evergreen Wolverines (10-4, 12-5) and the Port Angeles Roughriders (6-6, 10-10), No. 4 seed, who play the River Ridge Hawks (9-5, 10-9).
Last year, the Wolves returned to districts after a two-year absence to lose in the opening round 41-31 to the Franklin-Pierce Cardinals.
But this year they have two chances to advance to state and with a win or a loss they’ll face either North Kitsap or Evergreen on Feb. 13.
To prepare, Still said he’s done some scouting on the Hornets and to their advantage they have senior Caitlin Stofferahn who plays club basketball with many of the girls from White River.
Still said being the underdog may work to Sequim’s advantage too because Sequim has nothing to lose versus the Hornets.
“By being the underdog we can just go there and play,” he said. “We’ll be prepared but it can be difficult to play teams when you are supposed to beat them.”
On the season, the Hornets are averaging just over 68 points per game and allow about 39 points a game whereas Sequim scores about 42 points per game and allows about 41 points per game.
End of regular season
For the Wolves’ final game in Poulsbo, Still said the 52-36 loss to the Vikings was representative of their struggles with consistency all season.
“In that game we do a lot of really, really good things,” he said. “We have stretches where we are really tough but when we aren’t playing well, it’s hard to beat tough teams.”
Sequim finished down two 13-11 at the end of the first quarter but down eight at halftime. Sequim rallied to finish the third quarter down three points but could only score five points in the final quarter.
The Wolves gave up 23 points off turnovers and second chance opportunities, Still said, and they started the fourth quarter with turnovers and giving up second chance opportunities.
“Then they got the momentum,” Still said. “That’s been our issue all year. We’re not consistent.”
Stofferahn led the Wolves with nine points and seven rebounds while Adrienne Haggerty had eight points.
To win in the playoffs, Still said it comes down to playing consistent throughout.
“If we play well for 32 minutes, we’ll be OK,” he said.
To the girls’ credit, Still said one of their strongest abilities is sticking together in tough times.
“I think that everyone had higher expectations (on the season),” he said. “I know I did and I know our team did but it didn’t stop them from sticking together, coming to practice everyday and playing together.”