SLIDESHOW: EHS BASKETBALL: Enumclaw claims district title on way to state tournament

Enumclaw High's boys basketball team swept to the district title and right into state.

Wednesday, March 10 marks the beginning of the four-day Class 3A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome and begins the Hornets’ goal of again bringing home some state hardware.

The trek begins at 3:30 p.m. against the 19-6 Meadowdale High Mavericks.

EHS will begin its quest to claim four more consecutive wins, to add to the overall 24-0 mark it has already compiled, and polish its No. 1 ranking.

The squad Enumclaw must tangle with in phase one of its mission hails from the Lynnwood area and the Southern Division of the Wesco League. The Mavericks are led by 6-foot, 7-inch senior post Connor Hamlett, who was the third-leading scorer in the Wesco League, averaging 20 points per contest.

If Enumclaw beats Meadowdale it will advance to the winner’s side of the bracket and play at 7 p.m. Thursday against the winner of today’s Bellevue/Foster meeting.

If Enumclaw falls to Meadowdale, the Hornets will be kicked to the loser’s bracket and will play the loser of the Foster/Bellevue encounter.

“The guys are pretty relaxed and loose going into this thing this time around, because in their four years of playing together they have faced virtually every hardship, adverse situation and challenge conceivable,” said EHS coach Phil Engebretsen, who is in his seventh season in Enumclaw.

“We have survived critical injuries together and we’ve lost close contests deep into the playoffs,” Engebretsen said. “We have been up by a lot and down by a lot, we’ve gone to holiday tournaments in Greenville, N.C., and Wasilla, Alaska, playing some of the best prep teams in the country and actually whipping them.

“I think we have a great shot at making some fantastic memories here,” Engebretsen said of this year’s state tournament. “We have all of the key ingredients it takes to secure a state title, with an extremely talented group of seniors who enjoy a great rapport and chemistry. Not to mention the fact that I’ve been blessed with this fabulous coaching staff, who I give all the credit and praise in the world to.”

Regardless of what happens during the course of the next few days, Engebretsen emphasizes that his seniors should cherish the journey they have made together as a team.

“The have given this community something to rally around and hope for,” said the coach who in late-February earned SPSL 3A Coach of the Year accolades for the second consecutive season.

Enumclaw toppled a feisty Foster High group 56-43 March 2 to earn a shot against a pressing and quick Union High squad out of the Greater St. Helens League in Friday’s district championship tilt.

The Hornets celebrated their district title at the culmination of a 62-58 victory against Union.

“They did a better job of defending against us than any team has all year,” Union coach Maco Hamilton said. “They were much more physical and athletic than the teams we are used to facing in our league.”