Squalicum may have been a loser, but the Storm’s boys basketball team could not have been much more of inspirational loser in the semifinals of the Class 3A Northwest District Tournament.
The players felt the game was so much more than the Storm’s wild 70-65 loss to Shorecrest (20-2), last year’s state runner-up, after a fourth quarter for the ages Wednesday at Jackson High.
The Storm (17-4) came into the final period down 56-36 to a taller, much more experienced team. But Squalicum made eight 3-pointers and outscored the Scots 29-14 with a rally the likes of which longtime coach Dave Dickson could not recall.
Seventh man Taylor Lenderman, a senior guard, scored all of his 15 points, including four 3-pointers, in that crazy quarter as the Storm pulled within 67-65 with 40 seconds left before falling short.
Freshman guard Devante Powell, who scored a game-high 24 points, made five of Squalicum’s 14 3-pointers, including two in the final period. Damek Mitchell and Kendall Engelhart also made 3s in the rally.
“I’ve been a bench guy all year, and I’ve never done anything like that,” Lenderman said. “But I felt like there really wasn’t any pressure, we were down by so much. We have a lot to build on. I’m really proud we showed so much character. I can’t wait for the next game.”
What it means
“I can’t wait either,” said fourth-year starting point guard Mitchell. “We really do have a lot to build on.”
The Storm will have to wait for a 5:15 p.m. tipoff Saturday at Jackson against Everett, a 64-52 winner over Marysville-Pilchuck in a loser-out game Wednesday.
The winner qualifies for the state regionals.
Shorecrest will play for the district title Friday at 8 p.m. at Jackson against Stanwood, a 77-54 winner over Edmonds-Woodway in the other semifinal Wednesday.
“I’m really proud of that fourth-quarter comeback,” Dickson said. “I can’t remember one like that. The guys showed toughness and resiliency. Taylor Lenderman deserved that fourth quarter.”
With the Storm down 67-57 with 2:30 left, Lenderman hit a basket and two 3s in the next minute, pulling Squalicum within 67-65.
But the tying shot for the Storm would not fall. Malcolm Rosier-Butler – one of five seniors in Shorecrest’s seven-man rotation – made two free throws with 12 seconds left and one with six ticks to go. He led Shorecrest with 18 points and 6-foot-8 Philip Pepple scored 15.
Chris Lee and Walter Wang, who helped the Scots shoot 10 of 12 for a 24-15 first-quarter lead, combined for 22 points and Steven Lin collected eight points and a game-high eight rebounds. The Scots finished 28 of 45 and the Storm shot 24 of 57.
Storm hits boards
It seemed almost surreal that the shorter, less-experienced Storm fell only four rebounds short of the Scots, 24-20. Rosier-Butler had five steals in the second half, however, as turnovers ultimately hurt the Storm.
Powell, playing like anything but a freshman, scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half in perhaps his best game. He also pulled down eight rebounds and Mitchell grabbed seven. Engelhart finished with eight points and Ben Peterson played his usual spunky defense.