White River gets close, but suffers pair of narrow losses

Jake Bailiff goes up for two points during a home loss to Peninsula High.

It was close but no cigar for the White River High boys basketball squad again last week as they dropped three more league contests, two by slim margins, to drop their South Puget Sound League 3A record to 2-9.

The week began Jan. 20 with the Hornet cagers suffering their only legitimate blowout of the season, as they hosted Peninsula and the Seahawks flew away with an easy 64-35 triumph.

Reeling from that debacle, White River recovered in time to travel to Clover Park’s hardwood Friday and give the Warriors a good game, but eventually lost 49-45 as a fourth-quarter rally fizzled.

Then, in White River’s third hoop battle of the week Saturday, the Hornets hosted Auburn Mountainview and again victory eluded them, as the visiting Lions won 50-48. The score was tied 22-22 at halftime, but the Hornets had to contend with the hot hand of Lion post Michael Patenaude, who was lethal from the floor, scoring 24 points.

Center Kenneth Thomas scored 20 points, the only Hornet in double figures. Thomas is currently the third best scorer in the SPSL 3A, averaging nearly 16 points per game. Senior sidekick Nolan Gibson is not far behind him at No. 5, averaging 14 points per game.

“Maybe if teams would start taking us for granted, we could win some of these close games we’ve been losing,” coach Bill Hawk joked. “I learned a long time ago though, anything you accomplish in this tough league, you have to earn on your own.

“We’ve been right in most of the games we’ve lost this season, but in trying so hard to win, the kids kind of lose their composure at game’s end, sometimes committing fouls they know they shouldn’t, because that helps the other team close out the victory instead of us,” Hawk said.

While time is slipping away for the White River bunch, they will have two more opportunities to get back on the winning track this week. The Hornets have already traveled to Lakes, with the results from that Tuesday contest coming too late to include here, and will host a scrappy Franklin Pierce contingent at 7 p.m. Friday.

Reach John Leggett at jleggett@courierherald.com or 360-802-8207.