Cruiser boys give new head coach his first victory

Eatonville’s Shay Brannon rises above Castle Rock’s Owen Langdon (22) and David Garcia (44) to score two of his game-high 24 points in the Cruisers’ 70-57 win.

Eatonville’s Shay Brannon rises above Castle Rock’s Owen Langdon (22) and David Garcia (44) to score two of his game-high 24 points in the Cruisers’ 70-57 win.

Behind the shooting of seniors Shay Brannon and Walker Bruun, the Eatonville Cruisers put their season-opening loss to Morton-White Pass behind them and took down the defending SWW1A district champions, the Castle Rock Rockets, 70-57, last Thursday night at Rainier Connect Arena.

The win gave first-year head coach TJ Cotterill his first victory at Eatonville.

“I really appreciated so many who reached out to me afterward,” Cotterill said. “It’s so rewarding to get to spend every day trying to be a positive influence on players through basketball and help them create a meaningful and memorable experience.”

Following their 103-61 thrashing by the Morton-White Pass Wolves, the Cruisers regrouped before taking on Castle Rock.

“We wanted to respond with excellent skill, toughness and togetherness,” Cotterill said. “Games like that MWP game can define your season — either positively or negatively.

“It was great to see us play so much tougher and together and to see so much of what we’ve emphasized in practices start to show, and it was great to see all that pay off against a skilled team like Castle Rock.”

With the defending district champs in the house, the Cruisers sought revenge following the 44-42 loss the Rockets handed them last season in the district title game.

After trailing by five at the half, the Cruisers tied the game late in the third quarter and then outscored the Rockets in the final quarter, 25-13, with Brannon and Bruun scoring nine each, to push the Cruisers over the edge.

“It’s all about putting players in the best situations to be successful, and we saw, in the second half in particular, guys start to understand the attack mindset we need to play with to be successful,” Cotterill said. “That’s a fearless, relentless mindset we’re trying to instill in this program, and it was great to see us take a step toward making that our identity.”

The Cruisers didn’t have much time to revel in that victory, as they had a short turnaround before hosting the Cascade Christian Cougars a few days later.

Eatonville trailed for the first two-and-a-half quarters by as many as 10 points.

The Cruisers closed the gap on the Cougars to trail by only three as they entered the final quarter, however.

The Cruisers opened the fourth with Griffin Clevenger nailing a 3-pointer to tie the game at 52. From that point, the teams traded baskets, and the lead changed hands numerous times.

With 1:46 left in the game and trailing by two, Eatonville took a one-point lead, at 67-66, on a Hunter Klumpar 3-pointer, but the Cougars fought back and ultimately took a 73-70 win.

Brannon led the Cruisers with 24 points, hitting 10 of his 16 attempts, with three from beyond 3-point range. Kyle Cox followed with 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds.

The loss drops Eatonville to 1-2 in the early season. The Cruisers will try to rebound when they host their longtime rivals, the Orting Cardinals, at 7 p.m. Wednesday.


Eatonville:    14 14 17 25 — 70

Castle Rock: 19 13 12 13 — 57

Eatonville: Shay Brannon 24, Walker Bruun 16, Griffin Clevenger 12, Kyle Cox 8, Shane Taylor 6, Hunter Klumpar 3, Mark Nueva 1

Castle Rock: Trystin Martin 19, Lane Partridge 12, Trevor Rogen 9, James Montgomery 8, Owen Langdon 4, David Garcia 1.


Eatonville:    19 7 23 21 — 70

C. Christian: 19 13 20 21 — 73

Eatonville: Shay Brannon 24, Kyle Cox 15, Hunter Klumpar 11, Shane Taylor 7, Griffin Clevenger 7, Walker Bruun 6.

Cascade Christian: Jacob Janho 27, Cole Theiste 12, Carson Frost 9, Andrew Howells 8, Josiah Gopaul 7, Josiah Lewis 6, Cade Sando 4.


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