BELLINGHAM - Fast-breaking, ever-hustling Sehome didn't come close to taking enough shots to score 80 points. But the Mariners earned something they wanted so much more: a victory at Squalicum.
"This is a hump we've been struggling to get over for a long time," Mariners coach A.J. LaBree said of unbeaten Sehome's 54-48 non-league boys' basketball win on Monday, Dec. 3.
"We haven't had a win at Squalicum since 2001, I was just told," he said. "I know I haven't seen one (in nine years with the program, including six as head coach)."
It was also a win that Noah Cyr-Moore and his seven fellow seniors have wanted for a long time, especially since they remember the feeling when LaBree enjoyed his only other win over the Storm two years ago in the game that clinched the Northwest Conference title.
Sehome (3-0) came in with 88 and 81 points in two wins. "But defense really is No. 1 for us," said Cyr-Moore, who scored a game-high 19 points, including four 3-pointers.
"We had to play solid defense because Squalicum also played outstanding defense," said LaBree, whose team was held to 38 field-goal attempts but made 18.
The Storm (2-1), who has only one player with significant varsity experience compared to four for Sehome, shot 19 for 55, including eight 3-pointers.
"It's all about our core group. We've been playing together since fifth grade," said Cyr-Moore, who scored eight points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer that put Sehome up 51-43 with 2 minutes and 40 seconds left. He added three free throws in the final two minutes.
Indeed, the only non-senior who scored for Sehome was junior guard Evan Miksovsky, who finished with seven points and in an intense final period came through with five rebounds, two steals and a block.
"That's all Evan does in practice, all the tough things," said Cyr-Moore in appreciation of Miksovsky, who enjoyed a number of promising showings as a sophomore.
Cyr-Moore also received solid support from Charlie Linneman, who shot 4 for 5 from the field, and Gabe Sanchez, who had all of his eight points in the third quarter including a pair of 3-pointers.
Senior reserve Brice Longanecker - who hit the only two shots he took in the second half - made both from the outside near the end of the third quarter, giving the Mariners a 42-38 edge. Cyr-Moore opened the fourth quarter with a reverse layup for the best move of the game and Mo Williams followed with a drive, putting Sehome up 46-38 with 5:15 remaining.
Junior forward Blake Youtsey, who led the Storm with 13 points and is by far their most experienced player, gave Squalicum life at that point with his third 3-pointer. But Miksovsky, like Cyr-Moore moments earlier, made good on a nifty reverse layup, leaving the Mariners to milk the shot clock for all it was worth.
Squalicum sophomore Jonathan Whetnall, a quick 5-10 guard, shot 4 for 8 with a pair of 3s. Sophomore Ben Garcia and senior co-captain Blake Harmon combined for 17 points.
Can the Mariners contend for the NWC title?
"I think so," said Cyr-Moore, who has 50 points in three games, showing he seems much improved.
Squalicum coach Dave Dickson thought it was a solid learning experience for his young team.
"I thought both teams hustled," Dickson said. "Both teams learned what they need to do to get better (especially with an NWC coming up later this month for the Storm at Sehome). We played defense reasonably well. We had a few too many turnovers, and we weren't in the right spots on the floor at times."
Alex Yuska, senior co-captain of the Storm, played for the first time after battling an injury. The rugged 6-3 forward was whistled for two quick fouls and didn't play much in the first half, but he displayed his potential with two hoops and five rebounds in a 10-minute span of the second half.
SEHOME 54, SQUALICUM 48
Sehome 12 13 17 12 - 54
Squalicum 9 19 10 10 - 48
Sehome: Noah Cyr-Moore 19, Charlie Linneman 10, Evan Miksovsky 7, Gabe Sanchez 8, Mo Williams 4, Brice Longanecker 4, Bo Banner 2, Jake Manson 0, Tanner Clark 0, Duncan James 0. Totals 18-38 12-15 54.
Squallicum: Blake Youtsey 13, Ben Garcia 9, Blake Harmon 8, Alex Yuska 4, Tre Clark 0, Jonathan Whetnall 12, Luke Weber 2. Totals 19-55 2-4 48.
3-pointers: Sehome 6 (Cyr-Moore 4, Sanchez 2); Squalicum 8 (Youtsey 3, Harmon 2, Whetnall 2, Garcia.)
Rebounds: Sehome 28 (Miksovsky 8); Squalicum 28 (Youtsey 9). Assists: Sehome 8 (Sanchez, Cyr-Moore 3); Squalicum 7 (Youtsey 4). Fouls: Sehome 16, Squalicum 17.