On a night when the Eatonville community gathered at Rainier Connect Arena to honor the seniors on the Eatonville High School boys basketball team, it was junior Griffin Clevenger who stole the show.
His game-high 33 points helped power the Cruisers to an 87-67 victory over Elma to finish off their regular-season schedule.
“So I just let them fly, and after the first one that I hit, I knew that I was in the zone and told my team to keep giving me the ball,” Clevenger said after the game.
Clevenger hit eight 3-pointers on the night on his way to a career-high scoring performance.
“That's exactly what Griffin is capable of,” head coach TJ Cotterill said. “Elma sagged on him, and he made them pay with big-advantage shots.”
After both teams kept things close in the first half, which saw Eatonville leading by two at the half, the Cruisers came out in the third quarter and extended that lead. Clevenger scored 10 of his 33 points in the quarter to help put the Cruisers up by nine entering the final quarter, where Clevenger did the most damage.
With an electrified crowd behind him, Clevenger hit four consecutive 3-pointers. He hit the last one with one minute remaining from beyond NBA 3-point range to give the Cruisers a 20-point lead, 85-65.
Clevenger said the crowd, and the student section in particular, was a key to his stellar shooting performance.
“The student section is one of the biggest reasons I kept shooting and wasn't missing,” Clevenger said. “I fed off them. The student section was the best it's ever been. Our whole team was in a good mood from warmups all the way to the end of the game. We were all connecting and playing as a team and having a fun time with each other and enjoying a great and fun senior night, which was much deserved for this year's seniors.”
Cotterill emptied his bench at the one-minute mark to allow his senior players receive an ovation from the crowd before the clock hit zeros.
“The energy from our crowd was incredible,” Cotterill said. “We saw in Alaska how electric that environment was and their crowds, and our guys had been talking a lot about how great it would be to have something like that. We had that against Elma, and what a great experience for all of these seniors. You think about all they went through the past two seasons, and to give them a senior night as hopping as that was truly special.”
The Cruisers finished the regular season at 12-7 overall and 7-1 in Evergreen Conference play. For the second consecutive season, they are the Evergreen Conference champions and are the No. 1-seed heading into the District 4 playoffs.
Eatonville will host No. 4-seed Castle Rock at 6 p.m. Friday at Rainier Connect Arena.
A win in that game wound set up a semifinal against ther winner of the No. 3 Elma vs. No. 2 Seton Catholic game on Tuesday. The results of that game will not be available before press time.
EATONVILLE 87, ELMA 67
Eatonville 17 23 19 28 — 87
Elma 15 23 12 17 — 67
Eatonville: Griffin Clevenger 33, Shay Brannon 16, Walker Bruun 16, Kyle Cox 9, Shane Taylor 5, Mark Nueva 5, Hunter Klumpar 3.
Elma: Cason Seaburg 22, Traden Carter 13, AJ Holmes 12, Carter Studer 7, Gibson Cain 6, Grant Vessey 4, Kyren Hackney 3.
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