Cruiser boys fall to Wildcats in season-ending loss

Eatonville head coach TJ Cotterill goes over a play during a timeout in the Cruisers’ game against Elma on Feb. 14. The Cruisers fell to both Elma and La Center last week to end their season.

Eatonville head coach TJ Cotterill goes over a play during a timeout in the Cruisers’ game against Elma on Feb. 14. The Cruisers fell to both Elma and La Center last week to end their season.
Todd Hobert |

After losing by double-digits in their first two meetings in the season, the Elma Eagles snatched away Eatonville’s chances of playing in the district championship game for the second consecutive year when they shocked the No. 1-seeded Cruisers, 78-69, last week.

Despite three starters not feeling well, Eatonville kept pace with Elma at the start and ended the first quarter tied at 17.

The Cruisers used a 14-3 run to open the second quarter, fueled by Shay Brannon's 11 points, before the Eagles cut into that lead, with the teams heading into halftime with Eatonville ahead, 35-29.

Elma fired back in the third quarter to even things up at 51-51 as the quarter came to an end.

In the final period, Elma grabbed the lead midway through as the shots for Eatonville stopped falling. This forced the Cruisers to foul to stop the clock and sent the Eagles to the free-throw line. Elma hit 20 out of 25 attempts from the charity stripe to hold on for the win.

The Eagles shot 86 percent on the night, going 31-for-35 from the line, a big factor in their win.

Brannon led the Cruisers with 22 points. Kyle Cox was just short of another double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.

That loss dropped the Cruisers into the consolation bracket to take on the La Center Wildcats in a loser-out game on Thursday at Montesano High School.


Illness and injuries were ultimately the downfalls for the Cruisers in the SWW 1A District 4 playoffs as they fell to La Center, 81-59, on Thursday night at Bo Griffith Memorial Gymnasium in Montesano. The loss ended the Cruisers’ season.

With two of their All-League starters, Walker Bruun and Griffin Clevenger, out sick for the game, the Cruisers started the game with a 4-0 lead, but the Wildcats soon outdistanced them and led Eatonville 22-18 at the end of the first quarter.

On the Cruisers’ first possession of the second quarter, they lost another starter as Cox came down wrong on his ankle and rolled it, which ended his night. The Wildcats extended their lead to as many as 10 points in the quarter, but Eatonville cut into the lead and narrowed the deficit to four points with two minutes left. The Wildcats battled back to take a nine-point lead into halftime, 42-33.

Eatonville came out of the locker room fired up and put together an 8-2 run to get back in the game and then cut into the lead even more. The Wildcats led 44-43 midway through the third quarter.

As they had done all game, the Wildcats extended their lead again, and Eatonville trailed by 10 points at the end of the third, 55-45.

The Wildcats put the game out of reach in the final period as they started the quarter on a 6-0 run and outscored the Cruisers 26-14 to grab an 81-59 victory and end Eatonville's season.

“We had so many guys step up tonight,” coach TJ Cotterill said after the game. “We believed our depth would show and we’d get it done, but that’s a talented team La Center has, and they were tough. We battled, and it just got away from us in the fourth quarter. If a few more plays went our way before then, it would have been a different story. I love this team, and I hate that this season had to end like this for them. This is such an incredible, fun and selfless group.”

Eatonville finished the season with a 13-9 record overall, 7-1 in the Evergreen Conference, and 1-2 in district 4 play.

Cotterill assumed the head coach position at the start of the season by taking over the reins from Mark Swartout to lead the Cruisers to another Evergreen Conference title and an appearance at the district playoffs.

“I don't think I have the words to say how special this season has been,” Cotterill said. “I'll remember it forever. I hope they will, too. Coaches don’t just get to step into groups as special as this, and they embraced everything we brought from day one. We saw every player at some point step up and lead us.”

Injuries hurt the Cruisers throughout the season.

“Between Jake Wood, Walker, Griffin and then Kyle, it’s so hard to understand how this team deserved all that adversity,” Cotterill said. “Despite that, they were right there. I am so proud of them and all they will continue to do as the great people they are.”

The Cruisers will lose three starters to graduation: Brannon, Bruun and Cox. Wood and Shane Taylor will also graduate this year. The other two starters were juniors Hunter Klumpar and Clevenger.


Eatonville 17 18 16 18 — 69

Elma         17 12 22 27 — 78

Eatonville: Shay Brannon 22, Kyle Cox 10, Griffin Clevenger 10, Hunter Klumpar 9, Walker Bruun 9, Mark Nueva 5, Shane Taylor 4

Elma: Traden Carter 22, Cason Seaberg 17, Grant Vessey 12, Anthony Holmes, 10, Theodore Flores 9, Gibson Cain 8.


Eatonville   18 15 12 14 — 59

La Center    22 20 13 26 — 81

Eatonville: Shay Brannon 23, Hunter Klumpar 21, Mark Nueva 11, Shane Taylor 4.

La Center: Boston Walker 22, Austin Nixon 15, Colby Hylton 12, Logan Rainey 9, Jayce Grotte 8, Garrett Maunu 6, Anthony Larkin 5, Ryan Kawalek 3, Parker McKinney 1.


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