FERNDALE -- Anacortes coach Brett Senff couldn't help musing with awe at the competitiveness of the boys' basketball scramble in the Northwest Conference.
"Just imagine, we're 8-2 and we haven't yet clinched one of the (four) district playoff spots in the league," he said before his team - packed with talent after being the 2013 Class 2A state runner-up - came through with its latest awe-inspiring conquest.
Anacortes (14-4 overall, 9-2 NWC) shot a sensational 20 of 30 from the field in the first half of the Seahawks' 77-54 win over Ferndale on Thursday, Feb. 6.
And it was indeed sensational shooting. The Seahawks are so loaded that 6-foot-5 senior Andrew Medalia and three-year starter Ty Johnson, a junior, combined for only three of those whopping 20 first-half baskets while playing well in every other aspect.
Needless to point out, the Seahawks earned their playoff spot. Now they'll try to play spoiler against Northwest District Tournament hopeful Squalicum, which is fifth in the 2A ranks heading to the final league game for both teams on Tuesday, Feb. 11.
Meanwhile, the young Golden Eagles (8-12, 5-7) will be a No. 3 seed at Class 3A Northwest District and will play at Mountlake Terrace on Tuesday.
"We just weren't ready to play, and I'll take the blame for that," said Ferndale coach Monte Walton. "Now we'll just work toward getting ready for the district tournament. We'll have to flush this game down the toilet right away."
Despite the lopsided loss - Ferndale trailed by up to 59-25 late in the third quarter - it wasn't all horrible for the Golden Eagles, who had only one player to honor on Senior Night - guard Daniel Riley.
Austin Honeycutt, Ferndale's hard-driving 6-foot-3 sophomore post, displayed good focus with 3-for-4 shooting in the third quarter along with four rebounds and an assist. He finished with 10 rebounds and 8 points.
Brady Shearer, a junior wing, also concentrated well despite the lopsided score and hit five of his last six field-goal attempts for Ferndale, including three 3-pointers. He finished with a game-high 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting, with four 3-pointers.
John Weg, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, never quit and grabbed six rebounds in the fourth quarter for the Golden Eagles after gathering two in the first three quarters.
"We stuck to our game plan well, which was to focus on Honeycutt inside with our zone and make them shoot from outside," said Senff.
The veteran Anacortes coach received a combined 18 points from his top two reserves, 6-foot-4 Peter Haynes and 6-foot-5 Zach Vance, along with solid efforts from every starter, including junior guard Joe D'Amelio (16 points, eight assists), junior guard Jordan Neville (13 points) and junior Daniel McInerney (7 rebounds).
Ty Johnson - whom Senff called "our motor, our energy guy" - finished with 13 points, including 11 in the second half. He took only nine second-half shots but made four, including three 3-pointers, after amassing a dozen assists, rebounds and steals combined in the first half.
The muscular Medalia - who will have his choice of football or basketball in college - contented himself with taking only five shots from the field and making three.
"Ty and Andrew truly don't care who scores our points," said Senff, pointing out a good reason the rest of the team developed well enough to clobber Sedro-Woolley 64-37 last week. "All they care about is winning."
Senff feels fortunate that his two scoring leaders are so unselfish, since he noted that Anacortes hopes for a shot at the first state boys' basketball title in school history. He said last year's runner-up at state was the school's first such trophy since 1956 - or likely before most of the current players' parents were born.
Each team took 55 shots, but Anacortes made 33 and Ferndale hit 18. Even so, the Golden Eagles provided a glimmer of hope with 12-for-28 second-half shooting after being down 44-19 at halftime.
Anacortes, which made its first five field-goal attempts, was up 28-4 after its first-quarter blitz.
Walton has seen his team compete well in almost every game - he noted the Eagles have dropped seven games by no more than six points. So when Anacortes came out with such an overpowering opening quarter, it was a lesson in being as ready as a young team can be.
Three teams will advance to state from Class 3A districts instead of two, so Ferndale will try to be ready to take advantage of that.
ANACORTES 77, FERNDALE 54
Anacortes 28 16 17 16 -- 77
Ferndale 4 15 14 21 -- 54
Anacortes: Andrew Medalia 8, Ty Johnson 13, Joe D'Amelio 16, Jordan Neville 13, Daniel McInerney 4, Peter Haynes 10, Zach Vance 8, Jake Richards 3, Kaleb Wigen 2, Tristen Hayes 0. Team totals: 33-55 5-12 77.
Ferndale: Austin Honeycutt 8, Brady Shearer 18, Daniel Riley 5, Dante Kelly 3, John Weg 7, Malik Ivory 6, Carson Genger 6, Kier Mundanreder 1, Sky Freeman 0, Winterhawk Leighton 0. Team totals: 18-55 12-17 54.
3ptg: Anacortes 6 (Johnson 3); Ferndale 6 (Shearer 4). Rebounds: Anacortes 28 (McInerney 7); Ferndale 24 (Honeycutt 10). Assists: Anacortes 17 (D'Amelio 8, Johnson 5); Ferndale 8 (Shearer, Riley 2). Total fouls: Anacortes 18, Ferndale 14.