Enumclaw High’s boys basketball squad put itself in a promising position to claim the South Puget Sound League 3A hoop crown and exacted a bit of revenge in the process, as it gutted out a 59-55 overtime victory against Clover Park in Chuck Smith Gymnasium Friday.
The Hornets, now ranked sixth in the state at the Class 3A level with a 15-1 record overall, share a spot on top of the SPSL 3A heap along with Lakes, both with an 11-1 mark in league. Enumclaw’s one setback was a slim 51-50 defeat at the hands of the Warriors at Clover Park on Jan. 10.
It was a different venue and a different result, though, Friday at The Hive. The Hornet facility was packed to the rafters with vociferous EHS rooters, happy to finally see their highly touted basketball bunch in a crucial home tilt.
In the contest’s early going fans could tell Enumclaw was a bit wound up emotionally, shooting as cold as ice and falling behind 16-6 by the end of the first quarter.
Senior Wes Caldwell gave his team a much-needed boost when he nailed a couple of clutch baskets and played inspired defense to assist the Hornets in storming back in the second quarter. Still trailing 26-22 with 25 seconds remaining until intermission, the Hornets pulled off a dream sequence as Taylor Myers made a 3-point bucket, EHS snuffed out an attempt by the Warriors and Riley Carel managed to get off a buzzer-beater from about half court that put EHS up 28-26 at the break.
“That little span of time really fired up the fans and sent us into the locker room with a lot of momentum and excitement,” Enumclaw coach Phil Engebretsen said. “I think the real difference was the way these kids kept their composure down the stretch and on into overtime, playing it one possession at a time and keeping their cool.”
Jayson Lewis had a memorable evening, scoring a team-high 17 points. Myers and Carel combined for 27 points in the wild affair, with Carel hitting 5-of-6 from the charity stripe during a frantic five minute overtime period that saw Enumclaw play suffocating defense and outscore Clover Park 9-5.
Animated Clover Park hoop wizard Mel Ninnis agreed with Engebretsen that it was the seasoned play of Enumclaw’s playoff tested junior and senior cagers that ultimately was the difference.
“It was a pleasure and a privilege playing against Taylor, Riley and Jayson,” Ninnis said. “These guys gained a lot of experience playing in the state tournament last year, as they danced the tango with some pretty girls at the 2008 big dance at the Key Arena.”
The Hornets are gunning for their second SPSL 3A title in three years and have four league games remaining on their docket before heading into this year’s second season. Enumclaw traveled to Auburn Mountainview Tuesday, with the results coming too late to report here, and will roll out the red carpet for the talented Lakes cagers at 7 p.m. Thursday.
This encounter could hold critical playoff ramifications, as the Lancers are nipping at the Hornets’ heels in the league standings, sharing an 11-1 record heading into their Tuesday clash with Sumner.
The Hornets have a slight edge over Lakes in that they have already beaten Lakes in the Lancers’ house Jan. 9.
Enumclaw’s last two league games come Tuesday when Enumclaw travels to Franklin Pierce and Feb. 13 when the team hosts White River.
Reach John Leggett at email@example.com or 360-802-8207.