Cruiser boys sit atop Evergreen League with 4-0 record

After picking up their second league win of the season the previous week in a 71-32 thrashing of Montesano that saw Reilly McIlraith drop 28 on the Bulldogs, the Cruisers found themselves in the middle of league play with two Evergreen 1A league games last week.

On Jan. 18, the league-leading Cruisers traveled to Hoquiam to take on the Grizzlies and came away with a 58-48 victory behind Shay Brannon's 19 points.

The Cruisers jumped out to a quick 17-8 lead in the first quarter thanks to senior guard McIlraith and Kyle Cox’s six points each.

Cox kicked in six more points in the second quarter, and the Cruisers led 27-16 at the half.

That is when Brannon took over and scored 14 points to help Eatonville cruise to a 58-48 win.

In addition to Brannon's 19 points, Cox tallied 14 and McIlraith finished with 13.

The Cruisers then took on the Tenino Beavers in another Evergreen 1A showdown.

The Beavers are a young team with four freshmen and one senior in their starting line-up. They did their best to keep up with the much bigger and more experienced Cruisers and trailed by only one point at the half.

A critical 18-7 run in the third quarter, however, led by the inside game of the Cruiser squad, broke open the tight contest. After McIlraith kept the Cruisers in the game in the first half by scoring 12 of his 16 points, big Jake Wood and Cox took over in the paint. The duo scored 16 of the team's 18 third quarter points and pushed the Cruisers' lead to 12 points.

Foul trouble for the Beavers' two big guys, Takari Hickle and Jack Burkhardt, kept Burkhardt on the bench with four fouls in the third quarter, and Hickle had to be careful with three fouls. Wood and Cox took full advantage of that by dominating the inside with a couple of mid-range swish shots to help lead the Cruisers to the 63-45 win.

Four Cruisers hit double figures: McIlraith, Wood with 14, Cox with 13 and Brannon with 10. Jakob Lucht came off the bench and knocked down seven, and Waylan Mettler had three. The Cruisers could have had a larger lead at halftime and a bigger winning margin but were just 11-28 from the free-throw line.

Following the two road games, the Cruisers hosted the No. 7-ranked White River Hornets (9-1 overall, 7-0 in league play) out of the SPSL 2A league.

Eatonville led 35-34 at the half behind Lucht's hot shooting, who would nail down four three-pointers in the half.

The Hornets went on a 21-12 run in the third quarter to distance themselves from the Cruisers, 55-47.

In the final quarter, Eatonville fought back and trimmed the lead to just four points with 22 seconds left in the game but needed to foul the Hornets to stop the clock. White River converted those free throw attempts to hand the Cruisers a 70-63 loss.

Lucht led the Cruisers with 14 points followed by Cox with 12 points.

As of Sunday, the Cruisers were 4-0 in league play and 8-3 overall.

After playing Toledo Monday and a non-league game at Castle Rock High School Tuesday, the Cruisers finish the week with a 7 p.m. league match-up Thursday at Montesano High School.


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