Fresh off a satisfying 70-33 whooping of the Orting Cardinals, the Eatonville High School boys basketball team hopped on a plane last week and headed to Ketchikan, Alaska, to take on the Lathrop Malemutes in the first round of the 2022 Clarke-Cochrane Christmas Classic, Dec. 28.
The Cruisers didn't fare so well and let this one get away from them as they lost to Lathrop 51-45 in overtime.
Turnovers and missed free throws troubled the team in the loss. The Cruisers turned over the ball 31 times while shooting only 41 percent from the free throw line, which proved disastrous.
Eatonville led by nine in the second quarter before allowing Lathrop to go on an 8-0 run to get back in the game. The Cruisers held on for a one-point lead at the half at 18-17 despite a dismal 2-12 shooting from the charity stripe and 18 first-half turnovers.
The Cruisers continued to struggle in the third quarter as Lathrop outscored them 18-13 to take a four-point lead at 35-31 as they entered the final quarter.
The Cruisers battled back and held the Malamutes to only eight points in the final quarter while scoring 12 of their own to the game at 43 at the end of regulation.
In the four-minute overtime period, Lathrop went on a 6-0 run while holding Eatonville scoreless until Shay Brannon scored on a lay-in with 7 seconds left in the game. The Malemutes went on to win 51-45.
"It was a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes, and all of those added up — between the turnovers, lack of rebounds, missed free throws, missed opportunities inside and a few more 50/50 balls we needed to be on top of," head coach TJ Cotterill said.
"I was proud, though, of their fight at the end of the third quarter to get back into the game and in the fourth to send it to overtime,” Cotterill added. “Hunter Klumpar hit some big shots. It was really tough when Kyle Cox fouled out because he was so competitive. He had a great voice to get guys in the right spots, and he was really cleaning things up for us on the boards."
Cotterill didn't feel travel was an issue in the loss.
"A lot of teams had to travel, not just us,” he said. “It's a great tournament. We had a great first day getting into town [Tuesday] and doing some team bonding, riding the ferry, getting practice in while bunking and cooking meals in our classroom, and participating in the individual competitions with all these other programs. Our kids haven't had an experience like this in more than two years. They had to go through so much during the pandemic.
"What was so great was hearing guys like Jake Wood and Shane Taylor explicitly tell us how grateful they are to be able to have this, and you could see all the excitement with everyone else, with guys like Walker [Bruun] flying on a plane for the first time in his life,” Cotterill continued. “Maybe all the excitement and atmosphere of this got to us a little bit.”
Hunter Klumpar led Eatonville with a double-double, 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Shay Brannon also recorded a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Following the Cruisers' overtime loss to Lathrop, which dropped them into the consolation bracket, they faced the Nome-Beltz Nanooks out of Nome, Alaska, on Thursday.
Both teams entered the game wanting to turn things around after their opening games, with a chance to place fourth in the tournament at stake. The Nanooks suffered an embarrassing loss the day before at the hands of Dimond High School, who beat Nome by 47 points, 84-37.
It just wasn't in the cards for the Cruisers to get the win as they fell 51-48.
Free-throw shooting again hampered Eatonville as the Cruisers shot 56 percent from the line, converting nine of 16. Shay Brannon led the team with 16 points.
That loss dropped Eatonville to the seventh/eighth-place consolation game, where the Cruisers played the Nikiski Bulldogs from Nikiski, Alaska. The results from that game were not available by the press deadline.
Following the Alaska trip, the Cruisers will jump right into 1A Evergreen Conference play when they host the Montesano Bulldogs at 7 p.m. Friday at Rainier Connect Arena at Eatonville High School.
The Eatonville girls basketball team also competed at the Alaska tournament. Results for their games were not available before deadline.
LATHROP 51, EATONVILLE 45, OT
Eatonville: 9 9 13 12 2 - 45
Lathrop: 6 11 18 8 8 – 51
Eatonville: Hunter Klumpar 16, Shay Brannon 14, Walker Bruun 4, Shane Taylor 4, Kyle Cox 4, Mark Nueva 3
Lathrop: Luke Skinner 14, Peyton George 12, Atticus Foley 9, Earl Parker 6, Kal Vanhovein 4, Rylee Corbett 3, Marc Salvador 2, Jamal Gosier 1
NOME 51, EATONVILLE 48
Eatonville: 17 5 13 13 - 48
Nome: 17 10 14 10 – 51
Eatonville: Shay Brannon 17, Hunter Klumpar 10, Shane Taylor 8, Kyle Cox 6, Mark Nueva 6, Logan Taylor 1
Nome: Finn Greg 24, Jade Greene 12, Richard Cross 9, Orson Hoogendorn, Ethan Hannan 3