By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
EVERETT — A year ago Sehome’s boys basketball team knocked Archbishop Murphy out of the District 1/2 2A playoffs.
In the first round of the 2013 playoffs Friday night, this year’s version of the Wildcats hoped to use home-court advantage to knock down the Mariners — the No. 3 seed from the Northwest Conference.
For the first two quarters it looked like Murphy might do just that, but Sehome roared back in the third and won going away 77-56.
“It’s a good solid team,” Murphy coach Jamar Williams said of the Mariners. “They’ve gone through some battles with their league and they are playoff tested.”
The good news for the Wildcats is their season isn’t over. They face a loser-out contest Monday against Sultan, which was routed by the state’s No. 1 2A team Lynden also Friday night.
Murphy’s first-quarter play made it look like a run to the state playoffs could be in its future. The Wildcats used their speed to break the unrelenting Sehome full-court press and stayed composed to build an early lead that stretched as big as 11 points with 6:22 left in the first half
Mariners coach AJ LaBree thought his eight seniors were caught off guard by the Wildcats and praised Williams at midcourt moments after the final seconds ticked off the clock in the fourth quarter.
“I told him that they are a lot faster in person than they are on film,” LaBree said. “I thought they did a great job. They outhustled us definitely in the first half… I have a team full of experienced seniors and I think it took them by surprise a little bit. They had us shaken but luckily we settled down second half.”
Zander Clouse got to the free-throw line and scored easy buckets in the first half for Murphy on the way to 16 points. He finished with a game-high 25 but just two in the fateful third quarter.
“He battled through a lot of stuff.” Williams said. “He carried us with his energy, his competitiveness and when he did get the opportunities to touch the basketball.”
Sehome’s Charlie Linneman entered the game averaging 17.7 points per game, but foul trouble plagued him throughout the game. He ended up fouling out in the fourth quarter with a co-team high 17.
With Linneman on the bench in the second quarter and the Mariners trailing they needed something to spark them and it came in the form a 5-foot-10 senior off the bench averaging 1.9 points per game.
Jake Manson hit a 3 off a screen and a traditional 3-point play to bookend a 8-0 spurt that trimmed Murphy’s lead to 25-21 just one minute after the Wildcats built their biggest lead of the game.
His energy and 3s — Manson ended with four 3s and the old-fashioned one to score 15 points — seemed to remind Sehome that it was supposed to win the game.
“I could feel that we had a couple guys making big plays,” said Manson who is in his first year at Sehome after transferring, but earned a regular spot in the rotation by scoring seven 3s against Lynden Christian according to LaBree. “That feels good getting the whole team going.”
With four seconds left in the half Gabe Sanchez took the inbound and split a pair of Murphy defenders while racing down the floor. He pulled up just inside the half-court stripe for the first 3 of his 11 points as the buzzer sounded. The Sanchez dagger trimmed Murphy’s lead to 36-33 and was the start of a 14-1 run that all-but cooked the Wildcats and spanned halftime. Sehome outscored Murphy 23-7 in the third quarter.
“I think a lot of it has to do with their playoff experience and their senior leadership and our inexperience,” said Williams who has five seniors but only two senior starters. “I think (the Mariners) really stepped up. They went to another level in that third quarter as far as their competitiveness, their physicality and executing their defense. Our inexperience showed because of that and we quit executing what got us there in the first half.”
The Wildcats now face the rubber match with Sultan on the season series after splitting two regular-season contests.
“It’s a one-game season now,” Williams said. “So we’ve got to regroup, refocus and look forward to our next challenge.
“(Sultan is) a senior-laden team, they don’t want their season to end. I’m sure they’ll come out ready to play.”
After losing the teams’ first-two regular season matches, Sehome will take on Lynden for a spot in the 2A state playoffs.
At Archbishop Murphy H.S.
Sehome—Williams 0, Miksovsky 17, Engle 0, Anderson 0, Linneman 17, Longanecker 0, Cyr-Moore 6, Manson 15, James 0, Lallas 11, Sanchez 11, Banner 0. Archbishop Murphy—Clouse 25, Hoban 0, Sand 0, Harris 13, Saini 0, White 0, Longoria 11, Parafina 5, Kwesele 2, Rasmussen 0, Klaudt 0, Sutton 0. 3-point goals—Manson 4, Cyr-Moore 2, Parafina 1, Sanchez 1. Records—Sehome 17-4 overall. Archbishop Murphy 11-7.