The Enumclaw High boys basketball squad is still ranked No. 1 in the state with an untarnished 14-0 South Puget Sound League 3A mark and clinched its third straight SPSL 3A title Thursday night with a dramatic 44-43 road victory over its nearest competition, the Lakes Lancers.
Enumclaw’s beefy 6-foot, 6-inch center, Tarren “The Train” VanTrojen – who missed two games with a twisted ankle – was able to rehabilitate from the injury just in time for the crucial rendezvous at Lakes’ gymnasium.
Without its big man, things could have gotten ugly in the low post for Enumclaw, considering the way Lakes counts on 6-8 sophomore center Zack Banner.
With 11 seconds remaining, one of the Lancers’ finest shooters, Andre Winston, fouled out of the game, committing his fifth foul on VanTrojen.
VanTrojen drained both attempts from the line to furnish the initial Enumclaw lead of the second half – and provide the final margin of 44-43.
As the last few seconds ticked away, Andre’s younger brother, Issac Winston, was able to get off an uncontested shot from short range.
The ball seemed to dance a jig on the back of the iron before floating harmlessly to the floor, giving the Hornets their third SPSL 3A hoop title in a row.
“That darn ball bounced and rolled around on the back of that rim for what seemed like an eternity,” Hornet coach Phil Engebretsen said. “I thought it was going to drop through, but it didn’t.”
The Hornets were forced to rally for the huge win. With less than two minutes remaining, EHS trailed by seven points. Clamping down defensively, the Hornets forced three consecutive turnovers, despite five players burdened with four fouls each.
Playing a close game was something new for the Enumclaw crew.
In the 14 league trials the Hornets played prior to Thursday, the average margin of victory was 25 points. In the majority of these conquests, the understudies played the entire fourth quarter.
A 74-38, Feb. 2 demolition of Auburn Mountainview at Chuck Smith Gymnasium was no exception, as by intermission EHS had built a lead of 37-17. The EHS defense relinquished a paltry two points in the initial eight minutes of play.
With VanTrojen absent, it was essential that the rest of the starters take it to the next level against the Lions and they did.
The senior trio of Taylor Myers, Jayson Lewis and Riley Carel combined for 39 points.
Carel, last year’s league MVP, had a great week period, contributing 19 points against the Lions and a dozen against the Lancers.
This week, Enumclaw has already played host to an 11-3 Franklin Pierce unit; results came too late to report here but will be posted at www.courierherald.com.
Enumclaw’s last regular season meeting will have EHS crossing the county line to lock horns with the White River Hornets at 7 p.m. Friday.