Quick point guard Tanner Clark had an instant answer when asked what he liked best about leading the Sehome’s boys’ basketball team.
“It’s nice not knowing who’s going to be our scoring leader in any given game,” the senior co-captain replied shortly before his third non-league test of the season. “We are really deep.”
Fittingly, Clark wound up being the scoring leader for the first time this season, even though he is now the only Mariner with double-figure scoring in all three games.
Clark shot 9 for 11 in a fast, furious final 12 minutes and finished with 21 points in Sehome’s 77-63 non-league win over Squalicum in the Storm’s House of Thunder on Tuesday, Dec. 9.
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“I was struggling most of the night,” Clark said of the first 2½ quarters, during which he took only three shots from the field and missed them all by the time the young Storm (2-2) trailed only 42-38 midway through the third quarter.
“Then we got our fast break going and worked it out,” said Clark, who shot 7 for 8 and scored 15 points in a 25-point fourth-quarter explosion for potent Sehome (3-0).
The ever-hustling Clark benefited from sharp passing and rebounding from fellow senior backcourt returnee Leif Anderson and reserves Logan Deboo and Elijah Andrushenko.
Even so, Squalicum trailed only 52-48 following a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter by junior Josiah Westbrook, a Blaine transfer who led the Storm with 24 points, including 19 in the second half.
At that point, Sehome erupted with a constant display of speed and experience to outscore the quick, potential-laden Storm 25-15.
“Those guys are going to be a lot better when we see them in our league game,” Sehome coach A.J. LaBree said of the Storm, which has scored in the 60s in all four of its games. “Squalicum has a ton of potential. A lot of those guys are still working out their football muscles (following the best season in Storm history).”
Veteran Storm coach Dave Dickson pointed out Squalicum’s inexperience before the game.
“We have only one returning starter,” he said of sophomore point guard Damek Mitchell, whose eight assists played a huge role in the shooting opportunities for Westbrook, who played a full season on Blaine’s varsity as a freshman.
Westbrook has 87 points in his first four games and Mitchell has 56 plus a raft of assists.
Westbrook shot 8 for 12 in the second half, with three 3-pointers, after going 2 for 7 in the first half.
Anderson, who made four consecutive 3s in the first quarter, finished with 17 points for the Mariners. Sophomores Marcus Montag and Deboo scored 12 and 8, respectively, and much-improved 6-foot-6 Leighton Kingma had 9 points after leading Sehome’s previous win with 22.
“Elijah Andrushenko didn’t score but he did everything else,” LaBree said of the physically demanding 6-3 senior, who had five rebounds and a couple of nice assists while three other Tuesday reserves — Langston Engle, Duncan James and Deboo — combined to score 18. “He’s our enforcer and supplies instant energy.”
“It seemed like Logan Deboo was getting all the rebounds during my streak,” said Clark of the 6-5, 195-pound sophomore, who matched Montag with eight rebounds. “Logan has gotten a lot stronger.”
Deboo, who made a contribution now and then as a freshman during Sehome’s 17-8 season, said he worked intensely all summer.
“I would get pushed around last year when I weighed 170,” said the fast-improving sophomore. “But I’ve grown some and I’ve gained weight to about 195 pounds.”
What really made LeBree happiest, he said, was the Mariners’ 20 for 25 free throw shooting.
“That definitely made me happy,” said LaBree, whose only loss to graduation was all-county player Evan Miksovsky. “We were 12 for 27 in our first game.”
Mitchell finished with 11 points for Squalicum and fellow sophomore guard Darious Powell scored 10, shooting 4 for 8 with two 3-ponters. Harper Moore, a 6-2 senior, contributed nine points.
Sehome, which scored 82 points in each of its first two games, continued to show that the Mariners’ fast break can be lethal.
“We are going to run,” LaBree said with a twinkle in his eye.
Clark says the Northwest Conference likely will be more demanding than he has ever experienced.
“I think it’s definitely harder (with at least six district playoff contenders) than it’s been since I’ve been at Sehome,” Clark said. “There is a lot of experience in this league.”
Sehome 77, Squalicum 63
Sehome: Tanner Clark 21, Leighton Kingma 9, Marcus Montag 12, Leif Anderson 17, Sam Carroll 0, Elijah Andrushenko 0, Langston Engle 7, Duncan James 3, Logan Deboo 8, Teddy Pechthalt 0. Totals: 26-61 20-25 77.
Squalicum: Damek Mitchell 11, Josiah Westbrook 24, Darious Powell 10, Harper Moore 9, Chris Paz 5, Noah Westerhoff 3, Ben Tripp 0, Josh Vail 1. Team totals: 19-64 15-23 63.
3ptg: Sehome 5 (Anderson 5); Squalicum 7 (Westbrook 3). Rebounds: Sehome 38 (Deboo 8, Montag 8); Squalicum 36 (Paz 10). Assists: Sehome 8 (Clark 4); Squalicum 11 (Mitchell 8). Total fouls: Sehome 21, Squalicum 22.