Cruisers boys capture Evergreen 1A League title
One day removed from clinching the Evergreen 1A league title, the Cruisers completed their domination of the league with a 73-56 win over Elma, sealing an undefeated league record.
Earlier in the week, Jan. 31, they hosted the Tenino Beavers in a league matchup for their second time this season. The Cruisers had the upper hand in their first meeting, 63-45.
The second matchup was more of the same. The game was close at halftime with the Cruisers leading 30-27, but Eatonville ran away from the Beavers in the third quarter when they went on a 17-11 run.
Tenino fought back late in the fourth to close the gap to eight points, but that was as close as they got, and the Cruisers picked up the win, 59-51.
Three Cruisers scored in double digits, with Reilly McIlraith leading the way with 18 points. Shay Brannon recorded a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds, and Kyle Cox dropped in 12 points and nine rebounds.
The Cruisers hosted the Hoquiam Grizzlies Feb. 1 for Senior Night after downing them 58-48 earlier in the season.
Before the game, the Eatonville community recognized the team's five seniors: McIlraith, Jakob Lucht, Waylan Mettler, Brandon Storm and Justus Roulst.
The Cruisers led 20-13 after the end of the first frame, and then went on a 25-9 run in the second to put the game away and pick up the win, 71-37.
Four Cruisers scored in the double digits on the night. McIlraith led the way with 26 points. Brannon posted his second double-double in as many nights with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Lucht and Walker Bruun both added 10 points apiece. Mettler had a strong night in the paint with 10 rebounds.
With the victory over the Grizzlies, the Eatonville Cruisers clinched the Evergreen 1A league title with one game left in the regular season.
The Cruisers finished up the week hosting the Elma Eagles in another Evergreen 1A league matchup and put their unblemished league record on the line.
Missing three of their starters, the Cruisers trailed by two at the end of the first quarter, and Elma extended that lead by one to take a 33-30 lead into the locker room.
Eatonville came out in the third quarter fired up. The Eatonville crowd saw the Cruisers go on a 28-11 run to lead 58-44 going into the final frame and then cruise to a 73-56 victory to finish the regular season with an 8-0 record in the Evergreen 1A league.
"With us being down three key players against Elma, I am so proud of the way the available players played,” head coach Mark Swartout said. “Their 28 point outburst in the third quarter was a sight to see."
Four Cruisers had double-digit nights. McIlraith led Eatonville with a game-high 27 points. Cox finished with 18 points despite getting into foul trouble early in the third quarter. Lucht finished with 13 points, and Storm chipped in with 12.
With the Cruisers' strong finish, they will be the No. 1 seed going into the district playoffs this week. They will host the No. 4 seed out of the TriCo league, the La Center Wildcats, at 6 p.m. Thursday.
The Cruisers battled La Center (3-5, 7-13 overall) earlier in the season and came away with a 74-66 victory.