The Golden Eagles heading into their matchup against Sehome were hungry to add a signature win to an already strong start to the season.
They got it, knocking off one of two unbeaten teams left in the Northwest Conference.
But it didn’t come easy.
Trailing by double digits, Ferndale used an inspired fourth-quarter effort to earn an impressive 58-56 league win over the Mariners on Thursday, Jan. 15, at Ferndale High School.
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The Golden Eagles’ three previous NWC wins had come against opponents in the bottom half of the conference standings, but Ferndale put itself right in the thick of the league race with this one.
“It’s was a good win for us,” said Ferndale post Austin Honeycutt, who scored a game-high 20 points to go with nine boards. “We think this is our signature win. We think this is our breakout game.”
If it weren’t for Honeycutt’s strong second-half play, Sehome most likely would have marched out of Ferndale with its perfect record intact. The 6-foot-4 junior coach Monte Walton likened to a “bulldog” scored 14 of his 20 in the final two quarters, but none of his points were more important than his final bucket.
The Golden Eagles (9-3, 4-2 NWC) erased a nine-point deficit with six minutes to go thanks to full-court pressure that stifled the Mariners. A Brady Shearer 3 trimmed Sehome’s lead to 54-50 before Malik Ivory followed a layup with a pair of free throws to tie the game with 2:43 to play.
Ferndale’s John Weg then tied the game again, this time at 56, with 1:24 to play after a basket by Sehome’s Logan Deboo put the Mariners in front by two.
Following an empty Sehome possession, Ferndale got the ball to Honeycutt in the middle of the paint, and the Golden Eagles standout knocked down a mid-range jumper with 18 seconds to go for the eventual game-winner.
“I think the first half he couldn’t find his rhythm,” Walton said of Honeycutt. “(In the second half) he said, ‘You aren’t going to stop me,’ and I think he had some key rebounds in the second half. ... He was tough.”
Weg added 15 points, seven rebounds and converted eight of Ferndale’s 19 free throws. Shearer finished with 10 points, and Ivory chipped in seven.
Sehome (10-4, 4-1 NWC) was led by Leif Anderson’s 17 points, Elijah Andrushenko and Leighton Kingma scored nine and Langston Engle and Logan Deboo added five. Marcus Montag and Andrushenko each hauled in a team-best eight boards.
The Mariners seemed on their way to their fifth league win after building a comfortable lead with strong play during the second and third quarters. Anderson’s sharpshooting combined with opportunistic rebounding by the Mariners’ big men took advantage of Ferndale’s zone.
Sehome ended the first half on a 13-4 run, leading 37-30 at the break, and five points apiece from Anderson and Kingma helped the Mariners take a 51-41 advantage into the fourth.
But when Ferndale turned up the pressure in the final frame, Sehome’s offense dissolved.
“It probably shocked them that we were pressing,” Walton said, “ because they are usually the team that is pressing. We haven’t pressed much this year, but we had to do something because we were down. I think that triggered our energy the rest of the way, and time ran out on them.”
Ferndale 58, Sehome 56
Sehome: Langston Engle 5, Logan Deboo 5, Elijah Andrushenko 9, Sam Carroll 2, Leif Anderson 17, Duncan James 2, Marcus Montag 4, Tanner Clark 3, Leighton Kingma 9. Totals: 21-56 7-14 56.
Ferndale: Sky Freeman 1, Garett Holmes 0, Brady Shearer 10, Carson Genger 0, Riley Hunt 2, Malik Ivory 7, Austin Honeycutt 20, Jackson King 0, John Weg 15, Dante Kelly 3. Totals: 17-50 19-30 58.
3-point field goals — Sehome: 7 (Anderson 4); Ferndale: 3 (Shearer 2). Rebounds — Sehome: 32 (Andrushenko/Montag 8); Ferndale: 33 (Honeycutt 9). Assists — Sehome: 8 (Clark 5); Ferndale: 6 (Honeycutt 3). Fouls — Sehome: 22 (Andrushenko); Ferndale: 13. Turnovers — Sehome: 11; Ferndale: 12.