North to Alaska, the gold rush is on.
The Enumclaw High boys basketball squad elevated its untarnished mark to a perfect 7-0 and brought home a glittering gold champion’s trophy from the three-day Doc Larson Roundball Classic at Wasilla High in Alaska. The Hornets won all three games in the Dec. 21, Dec. 22 and Dec. 23 tournament.
The third game was definitely a charm for the Hornets, as in the championship tilt, EHS was triumphant over the hosting Warriors 46-33.
Enumclaw was tested during the course of the contest against an extremely tall Wasilla bunch, but by the time the fourth frame rolled around, the Hornets had solved the puzzle and began to run the Warriors into the parquet. Enumclaw, certainly the swifter of the two squads, picked up the pace in the fourth quarter, outscoring Wasilla 17-6 to wrap up the title.
Tarren VanTrojen, the 6-foot-6-inch, senior post for Enumclaw, was the picture of consistency in the tournament scoring 14 points on Day One, 14 points on Day Two and 17 points against the Warriors.
VanTrojen was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“Tarren really deserved to be called MVP, because of all of the guys on this team he truly was Mr. Consistency,” coach Phil Engebretsen said. “We were a little bit fatigued by that third game, but Tarren contributed in each of the three contests that’s for sure.”
Enumclaw senior point guard Riley Carel, who was named the South Puget Sound League 3A’s MVP at the close of the 2008-09 season, was named to the all-tournament team.
Against Juneau-Douglas High Dec. 22, the Hornets went up against a very different team style-wise, as the Juneau-Douglas crew boasted a set of guards, one of whom poured in 18 points in JDHS’ 69-50 defeat.
Enumclaw had a few scorers of its own. Hornet senior, shooting guard Coleman Clyde shot lights out, hitting three three-point baskets in the second stanza to notch nine of the 15 points he tallied in the contest.
Meanwhile Carel hit nothing but baskets from outside the arch, going 4 for 4 from downtown to contribute to a 38-point EHS second half after EHS was already out front at intermission, 31-17.
Enumclaw seems to have mastered the mysteries of playing half court defense in this year of the re-introduction of the 35-second shot clock. Engebretsen maintains it is no accident the Hornets have stiffened defensively.
“Playing pressure defense was one of our main goals coming into the season,” Engebretsen said, “and I really fell as though we have done well at slowing our opponents and causing them to go past the required 35 seconds as well as often making them cover the ball.”
In its tournament lid-lifter Enumclaw dominated a 4A Chugiak High squad, 65-43. The Hornets doubled up on a huge Chugiak High contingent in the first half, thanks to the hot-shooting of guards Taylor Myers and Carel, who combined for 22 points. Enumclaw sprinted out to a 35-17 upper hand heading into the halftime locker room.
In the second half of the lopsided encounter with the Mustangs, Enumclaw substituted liberally, but still managed to accumulate 30 second-half points and cruise to the easy 22-point win.
Engebretsen said the team also enjoyed their time in Alaska off the court.
“There wasn’t a dull moment during that three day period,” Engebretsen said, “as when we weren’t eating, sleeping or playing we were having a lot of fun with team activities, like learning about and engaging in dog sledding with the assistance of a genuine Iditarod musher.
“Doing this type of recreation builds rapport and aids in the bonding process. If things get tough down the road, we will know that we can trust, lean on and depend on each other in the clutch, to win the close games, as long as we stay together and play as a team.”