FERNDALE - Chances. Ferndale's boys' basketball team had plenty of them.
The Golden Eagles could have grabbed one of the four missed 3-pointers by Marysville-Pilchuck before Cole Grinde hit the game-tying 3 after the Tomahawks' four offensive boards.
Austin Honeycutt could have made the 8-foot shot when Ferndale was down by one. Dante Kelly could have gotten off a clean shot moments before that.
Kelly could have sunk both of his free throws instead of just one seconds earlier. He also could have made both his free throws with about a minute left.
All the chances for the Golden Eagles were there, but they never capitalized on them as they fell to Marysville-Pilchuck 60-58 on Tuesday, Feb. 18, in a loser-out game in the Class 3A Northwest District Tournament.
And as the lone senior, Daniel Riley, put it: "It's just over."
Riley's career did not end the way he envisioned it, but they certainly gave it one heck of a run. Riley finished the game with eight points, five rebounds and three assists.
"You can't fault them for their effort," Ferndale coach Monte Walton said. "They played with a lot of heart. They left a part of themselves on the floor and that's what you ask for."
But it was missed free throws that doomed the Golden Eagles. Ferndale went 9 of 18 from the free-throw line, including going 4 of 10 in the second half.
It's a stat that left Walton shaking his head, wondering how it happened.
"We told them it may come down to free throws," Walton said. "We practice them everyday."
Walton also preaches limiting opponents to one shot, and for 99 percent of the game, the Golden Eagles did just that. They outrebounded the Tomahawks 39-28, but for 20 seconds, the Golden Eagles couldn't get their hands on the ball. Four offensive rebounds later and the game was tied up at 57-57 with momentum swinging the other way.
"I told them after the game, 'It's going to hurt, but it comes down to rebounding and free throws,'" Walton said.
The Golden Eagles looked like they might not even be in the game at the start, however.
Marysville-Pilchuck came out strong, taking an 18-7 lead into the second quarter.
"I don't know why we started that way," Walton said. "We wanted to come out strong and we didn't."
Then almost like the flip of a switch, the Golden Eagles were the superior team, busting out a 23-13 second quarter and pulling the game to 31-30 going into the half.
It was John Weg's superior play leading the charge. The 6-foot-7 post was grabbing every rebound and he tallied six points in the quarter. He finished the game with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
At one point, Weg ran down a tipped pass, prompting an assistant coach on the bench to say, "Something's gotten into John."
"We played like the underdog," Riley said. "We had nothing to lose."
Then the third quarter flipped back the other way. The Tomahawks dominated, winning the quarter 21-10 behind Dante Fields' eight points.
The Tomahawks went on a 7-0 run and an 8-0 run, often times not allowing any space on the court for Ferndale to move.
Of course, the Golden Eagles weren't going to roll over. Honeycutt took over the game and the blue-and-gold came storming back.
Honeycutt scored 13 of the team's 18 fourth-quarter points.
"It's a lot of pressure, but I expect the most out of myself," Honeycutt said of the team resting on his shoulders.
His 17 second-half shots say more about what he accomplished as a sophomore than what the result does. The Golden Eagles only took 23 shots in the second half.
"He had one of the best players on him and he still got good second chances," Walton said. "That's a tough matchup but he worked hard and hustled."
Honeycutt also grabbed 13 rebounds in the game as he finished with 22 points. He led a 15-2 run to start the fourth quarter during which point the Golden Eagles took the lead until the 3-pointer by Grinde that tied the game.
Michael Painter, who scored 20 points, was the man across from Honeycutt. Painter eventually scored the go-ahead basket for the Tomahawks when he snuck in the lane for a layup to make it 59-58.
Ferndale outscored the Tomahawks 41-21 in the second and fourth quarter, leaving the players to wonder what could have been.
"We played with a lot more excitement and energy," Honeycutt said of the two quarters. "We played a lot better pressure defense."
The Golden Eagles only lose one senior on the team, but nothing is guaranteed for next year. Everyone must fight for their spot.
"You have to get up early, play in the offseason, work on your strength," Walton said. "We are one of the youngest teams and this is only going to make us stronger."
MARYSVILLE-PILCHUCK 60, FERNDALE 58
Marysville-Pilchuck 18 13 21 8 - 60
Ferndale 7 23 10 18 - 58
Marysville-Pilchuck: Bryce Jeanau 6, Bruce Vitovich 0, Josh Bevan 9, Michael Painter 20, Cole Grinde 10, Dante Fields 12, TJ Rice 3. Team totals: 24-42 6-16 60.
Ferndale: Daniel Riley 8, Brady Shearer 6, John Weg 10, Carson Genger 1, Kier Munzanreder 0, Austin Honeycutt 22, Dante Kelly 10. Team totals: 22-50 9-18 58.
3-point field goals: Marysville-Pilchuck 4 (Bevan 2), Ferndale 2 (Kelly, Honeycutt). Rebounds: Marysville-Pilchuck 28 (Fields 6), Ferndale 39 (Honeycutt, Weg 13). Assists: Marysville-Pilchuck 6 (Bevan, Fields 2), Ferndale 9 (Shearer 5). Fouls: Marysville-Pilchuck 13 (fouled out: Fields), Ferndale 18 (fouled out: Riley). Turnovers: Marysville-Pilchuck 9, Ferndale 14.