For a team that's seen a good amount of heartache this season,
Sequim players sure had an abundance of smiles in the locker room after the Wolves' do-or-die playoff win against Eatonville on Saturday night.
"Eatonville came ready to play,"
Sequim coach Greg Glasser said following his team's 51-50 victory that keeps the Wolves' season going and vaults them into the double-elimination portion of district tournament play.
"Every free throw that we made, we needed," he said.
In a game that saw no lead larger than eight points (Sequim's halftime advantage) and four lead changes in the final quarter, the Wolves managed just enough to get past the Nisqually League's No. 3-seeded Cruisers.
Senior Ary Webb scored 20 points while his freshman brother and backcourt teammate Corbin Webb chipped in with 14, Eatonville's Brad Norman scored 18 points and the Cruisers shot a robust 53 percent from the floor, but Sequim's sharp-shooting brothers Sequim's sharp-shooting brothers and some clutch free throws gave the Wolves the sliver of a lead to carry them through. "This was one of those rare teams that are the same height as us," said Sequim forward Jeremie Oliver, whose only point helped Sequim build a 47-44 lead with 20.8 seconds remaining.
After his second shot missed, Sequim's John Textor stole a rebound away from Norman, drew a foul and hit a pair of free throws that looked like they would cinch the game.
But Cruiser Zachary Bass drained a three-pointer.
That's when Sequim inbounded to Corbin Webb with less than six seconds left. The freshman, averaging just 3.8 points per game, sank his 13th and 14th points of the contest for a 51-47 Sequim lead.
Bass' three-point try at the buzzer went in for the final one-point Sequim margin.
From the outset, it looked like as much of an evenly matched pairing as one can find. Besides a similarity in height, both teams finished third in the league's final regular season standings, both teams started a freshman at point guard and both teams struggled to find consistency during the season.
Sequim took an early 7-4 lead after Clancy Catelli stroked a three-pointer, but Eatonville battled back to tie the game at the end of the first quarter, 11-11.
A Bass three-pointer and Norman lay-up put the Cruisers up 16-11 before Sequim went on an 11-0 run of their own, eight of those points coming from Corbin Webb and the other three from big brother Ary.
The teams traded baskets before Ary found Corbin for a short jumper just before the halftime buzzer, putting Sequim up 31-23.
Eatonville found some life after the break. It was Norman, the Cruisers' 6-foot 3-inch forward, who opened the second half with a pair of baskets and assisted on another, pulling the visitors within three (36-33) after three quarters finished.
"We didn't know (Norman) would be as big a factor as he was," Glasser said.
In the fourth, it was a seesaw battle between two hungry teams. Sequim, desperately trying to hold the lead, saw it evaporate when Norman sank a pair of free throws at the 1:53 mark, putting Eatonville up 44-43. It would be the last Cruiser lead of the night.
After Catelli tied the game with a free throw, Eatonville turned the ball over, and Catelli found Ary Webb underneath for a lay-in and 46-44 lead.
Norman looked to tie it but his shot was off. That's when Oliver secured the rebound, got fouled and sank one of two free throws. On the miss, Textor simply ripped it away from Norman, drew the foul and hit the clutch free throws.
Ary Webb wound up five-of-seven from three-point range and the Wolves shot eight-of-15 (53 percent) from behind the stripe as a team.
Now the Wolves challenge Fife's Trojans, the Nisqually League 2A champs. The meeting will be a rekindling of a rivalry of sorts for Glasser, who once was a roommate with Fife coach Mark Schelbert and pitted against him in elementary, junior high and high school levels growing up.
But this game comes down the young men in purple and gold versus the ones in blue and gold.
"They're quick, athletic, they like to pressure you," Glasser said of Fife's Trojans. "We've got to be able to handle that pressure."
Oliver echoed his coach's remarks.
"It's going to take solid execution (to win in the playoffs)," Oliver said. "We can't afford to have any ... turnovers."
While Eatonville is a good two-and-a-half hours in travel time from Sequim, the Wolves' Taylor Thorson had the longest journey. He finished playing at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho, on Saturday morning, then caught a plane ride from local attorney Alan Millet and raced the gym to play against Eatonville that night. He had three rebounds in the win ... against Eatonville, Ary Webb led the team in rebounds (six) while he, Corbin and Catelli each had three assists ... Textor had three of Sequim's five steals ... the last time Sequim played Fife, the Wolves toppled the Trojans 58-41 in the first round of the 2007 West Central District playoffs. Ary Webb led Sequim with 18 points ... Sequim won that 2007 West Central District tournament, beating Fife by 17 points and Foster by 19 points. Port Townsend, now a 1A school, won the tourney last season.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.