SULTAN — The ups and downs of Sultan’s 2013-14 basketball season will forever be bookended by losses to Sedro-Woolley.
On their home court, the Cubs handed the Turks a 95-72 defeat in the season-opener for both teams on Dec. 3. Tuesday night they traveled to Sultan, but the result was the same. Sedro-Woolley’s 72-70 win in a loser-out game of the District 1 2A/1A tournament ended the Turks season.
Sultan’s season was a wild ride that included a winning streak of seven games followed by a losing streak of five and a winning streak of five.
Though they ended their season against the team they started it against, the difference between the two games goes a long way toward describing just how much the Turks have grown in 22 games.
They couldn’t have exhibited that growth any better than the way they responded to adversity in the second half. After falling behind by 14 at halftime and 17 early in the third quarter, the Turks stormed back to take a fourth-quarter lead before ultimately losing after two late free throws by Cubs’ guard Jackson Price.
“It’s amazing,” Sultan head coach Nate Trichler said of his team’s second half effort. “Hopefully that sets them up for the rest of their lives — that when things go wrong they can fight back from them. They don’t have to lie down and take it.”
The Cubs controlled the game’s pace in the first two quarters, but Sultan set the tone early in the second half.
“I challenged them that we had to make some hustle plays,” Trichler said. “We had to get on the floor and get some loose balls. We actually started the third quarter with two hustle plays right in a row. It really set a tone for how things were going to go in the second half.”
Behind Giovanni Williams and the timely 3s of senior Robbie Rappuhn and junior Joe Schmidt, the Turks closed the third quarter with a 16-4 run to get within striking distance heading into the final quarter.
Williams, the Turks’ best player, put the team on his shoulders. He scored Sultan’s first eight points of the quarter and finished with 14 of his 29 in the final eight minutes.
“We really worked on getting him the ball down low,” Trichler said. “He had some size and strength advantage down low. We tried to find different ways to get him inside the 3-point line when he caught the ball because his first step is so fast he is able to get to the hoop and finish strong through contact.”
Unfortunately for the Turks, whatever contact they experienced was going unnoticed. The Cubs shot 27 free throws in the game while Sultan shot just four. All four coming off of two technical fouls called on Sedro-Woolley.
With 5:47 to play Sultan took its first lead since midway through the first quarter, but Price came to the rescue for the Cubs.
Not only did the junior guard hit the two free throws that clinched the victory, he helped put his team in a position to do so. Price scored 36 points and made five 3s to lead all scorers. Nine of those 36 came in the fourth.
“We kept trying to make him shoot over us,” Trichler said. “That was our goal all night.”
The problem was, Price kept making them.
“I thought Giovanni did a great job in the second half of making all those shots tough and over someone. You can see he was getting frustrated. Even though (Price) had 36, he still seemed frustrated at times.”
Price and the Cubs came back to take a 70-68 lead in the final minute before Williams tied the score on a putback with 14 seconds to play.
The game appeared headed for overtime, but the officials whistled Williams for a hand check foul on Price with 2.8 seconds remaining in the game. Williams fouled out on the play and Price made both free throws to help the Cubs escape with the win.
In his final game for the Turks, Rappuhn scored 17 points including five 3s to help his team get back in the game.
“He’s been known to do that,” Trichler said. “He goes off here and there. He played a good defense game tonight and that’s what allowed him to stay in the game longer and get more shots off.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Sultan H.S.
Sedro-Woolley 18 23 14 17 — 72
Sultan 12 15 24 19 — 70
Sedro-Woolley–Josh Gaehle 0, Blaine Hindman 4, Ethan Isakson, Jackson Price 36, Will Enniss 11, Anthony Cann 2, Mason Elms 17, Michael Moser 2, Chad Wilburg 0. Sultan–Kolton Anderson 4, Robbie Rappuhn 17, Joe Schmidt 3, Giovanni Williams 29, Chris Walcott 0, Tyler Morris 0, Bubba Branham 4, Jordan Alexander 0, Cooper Beucherie 8, Deion Bonilla 5. 3-point goals–Price 5, Rappuhn 5, Schmidt 1, Williams 1. Records–Sedro-Woolley 15-7. Sultan 13-9.