In its first three league games, all victories, the Enumclaw High boys basketball squad has beaten its league foes by an average of 40 points.
That didn’t transpire when the Clover Park Warriors visited Chuck Smith Gymnasium Thursday. In front of a large and supportive throng of Hornet faithful, the next best thing did.
Enumclaw emerged triumphant 60-48 against an athletic and physical Warrior squad, consequently going into the holiday season as the only South Puget Sound League 3A contingent with an untarnished 4-0 mark in league and overall.
Enumclaw’s behemoth, center, 6-foot, 6-inch Tarren VanTrojen celebrated his 18th birthday in style as he was not only the game’s leading scorer with 17 points, but also received what he called the “best possible birthday gift,” a sweet payback win over the Warriors, the only group of cagers to hand Enumclaw a defeat during the 2008-09 regular campaign, with a narrow 51-50 triumph on Clover Park’s hardwood last January.
“Coach Engebretsen didn’t have to give us any inspirational speeches to get us pumped up for this one,” said the Hornet cager, who went 5 for 5 down the stretch from the charity stripe to seal Clover Park’s fate.
“We’ve been waiting to exact our revenge on Clover Park for a long time. There was just no way we were going to lose to them again, especially in front of our home fans,” VanTrojen said.
But the skilled Clover Park team didn’t exactly roll over and make things easy for EHS. The Warriors trailed by six points at the break and actually held the upper hand early in the fourth stanza, giving the Hornets no other recourse but to leave its starters in for the duration of the contest.
“We needed a game like this,” Enumclaw coach Phil Engebretsen said. “This was definitely the most physical game we’ve been in so far this season and that (Tana) Pritchard kid is hard to stop. Although he scored 14 points we made him earn everything he got, because he made some very difficult shots, usually with someone’s hand right in his face.”
Senior Hornet guard Riley Carel, the seventh leading scorer in the SPSL 3A averaging a dozen points per game, spearheaded a surge and some separation when he stole the ball from Pritchard and sprinted the length of the court for an uncontested layup to put Enumclaw ahead 45-35 with less than 4 minutes remaining in the tilt.
Carel, who was voted the 2009 SPSL 3A Most Valuable Player, went above and beyond the call of duty against the Warriors, as he recorded 16 points, lassoed six rebounds and dished several assists.
Enumclaw is closing up competition at the Doc Larson Roundball Invitational in Wasilla, Alaska, today, Wednesday.