BURLINGTON - When Squalicum seniors Luke Weber and Remington Wilcox and coach Dave Dickson talked about a "total team effort," their words were much more than a cliché.
Dickson readily agreed that every player made a significant contribution as the Storm kept their Class 2A Northwest District hopes alive with a memorable 62-55 win over Burlington-Edison on Thursday, Jan. 30.
"That's just what I told the guys in the locker room. Everyone made a significant contribution," said Dickson, whose Storm (9-7 overall, 5-4 Northwest Conference) remained fifth in the 2A portion of the NWC with three league games remaining.
Only four NWC teams will qualify for 2A districts, but the Storm's remarkable team play showed that Squalicum likely would be a worthy entrant. Burlington (8-8, 3-6), which badly needed a victory, also turned in an effort worthy of the multitude of memorable Squalicum-Burlington games in league and at districts and state in the past decade.
Weber's two free throws gave the Storm a 59-50 lead with 53 seconds remaining, but the Tigers would not go easily.
Burlington senior Rudy Mataya scored on a drive before Squalicum senior Ben Garcia made a free throw with 16 seconds left, putting the Storm up 60-52. Mataya, one of the league's most talented athletes, immediately responded with a 3-pointer, but Storm freshman Damek Mitchell removed all doubt with a pair of free throws with eight seconds left for the game's final points and a three-possession advantage.
Weber, an inspirational sort, was thrilled with the way his teammates responded in what was surely his best high school game.
"Everyone played really well; everyone contributed an important role," said Weber, who finished with 13 points via 6-for-6 free throw shooting and 3-for-6 accuracy from the field, plus 10 rebounds, three steals and three assists. "We knew we had to play well to win. Remington Wilcox (the sixth man) played a great game. And I'd have to agree this was my best game."
Who could argue with the contributions of Weber? His blue-collar style has been so often overshadowed by fellow seniors Blake Youtsey and Garcia and freshman point guard Mitchell.
"My teammates set me up very well," said the 6-foot-6 Wilcox, a varsity rookie who finished with a career-high 11 points, with 5 for 8 accuracy from the field and seven rebounds, all seemingly important.
At that rate, he may yet wind up being called the "Remington Rifle" for his increasingly important contributions off the bench.
"Remington definitely continues to improve," said Dickson.
Mitchell scored eight of Squalicum's first 11 points in the first three minutes, then sat out the rest of the first half with two fouls. The situation didn't faze the quick yearling -- he not only scored six points in the third quarter as the Storm rallied to take the lead for good, but also contributed three second-half assists in tight spots and finished with 16 points.
Youtsey, Squalicum's scoring leader and senior leader, was limited to 1 for 3 shooting in the first half. But the powerful 6-4 forward responded with nine second-half points, including a vital 3-pointer for a 52-44 lead early in the fourth quarter after Burlington scoring standout Isaak Davies made a 2 and 3 within seconds as part of a 5 for 6 streak during the Tigers' comeback from a 45-37 deficit after three quarters.
Youtsey finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and three second-half assists, helping to offset the second-half excellence of Davies, who nearly matched his average with 21 points, including 16 in the second half.
Squalicum junior Clark Hazlett came through with six points, including three after the Tigers pulled within 54-50 on a 3-pointer by Davies. Hazlett also contributed his usual alert, physical defense in tight traffic.
Garcia had five points, four assists, six rebounds and two blocks.
"I have to credit Alijah Garcia with a great effort off the bench," said Dickson. "When he came in (after Mitchell left early with the two fouls), Alijah gave us strong energy."
The same could be said of sophomore reserve Creighton Kaui's effort when teammates were in early foul trouble.
Burlington senior Jacob Kamps played a lot taller than his 6-2, coming up with 13 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Blake Rawlins connected on a pair of first-half 3s off the bench, helping the Tigers to a 30-28 halftime lead.
The Storm finished 21 for 49 from the field while the Tigers were 20 for 54. At the line, however, Squalicum connected on 17 of 21 shots while Burlington made only 7 of 18, negating the eight 3-point shots by the Tigers.
Squalicum will visit Mount Baker on Friday, Jan. 31, then finish against league-leading Lynden Christian and Class 2A district contender Anacortes. Burlington welcomes Bellingham on Friday, Jan. 31, then winds up with Blaine and district contender Sehome.
SQUALICUM 62, BURLINGTON-EDISON 55
Squalicum 17 11 19 15- 62
Burlington-Ed. 14 16 9 16- 55
Squalicum: Blake Youtsey 11, Clark Hazlett 6, Luke Weber 13, Damek Mitchell 16, Ben Garcia 5, Remington Wilcox 11, Alijah Garcia 0, Creighton Kaui 0. Team totals: 21-49 17-21 62.
Burlington: Isaak Davies 21, Jacob Kamps 13, Tarren Lautenbach 3, Carlos Navarro 3, Rudy Mataya 7, Blake Rawlins 6, Blake Dimock 2, Nic Metcalf 0. Team totals: 20-54 7-18 55.
3-ptg: Squalicum 3 (Weber, Mitchell, Youtsey); Burlington 8 (Davies 4, Rawlins 2). Rebounds: 35 (Youtsey 10, Weber 10); Burlington 30 (Kamps 13). Assists: Squalicum 13 (B. Garcia 4, Mitchell, Weber, Youtsey 3); Burlington 9 (Kamps 4). Total fouls: Squalicum 18; Burlington 19 (Davies fouled out).