BOTHELL — For the second time this season, Edmonds-Woodway had a top-10 ranked team on the ropes and for the second time this season, the Warriors came up short.
Edmonds-Woodway led Issaquah, ranked No. 8 in the Seattle Times poll, by four points in the final two minutes. However, the Warriors were outscored 9-2 down the stretch for a disappointing 58-55 loss in the semifinals of the Bothell Holiday Classic boys basketball tournament.
“For us, (the difference was) in the last two minutes turnovers,” Edmonds-Woodway coach Steve Call said. “I think we had three turnovers in the last two minutes.
“That’s two games now where we were up three or four with two minutes to go. I mean, we had Jackson by three with two minutes to go and we had these guys by four with two minutes to go. So, I think we have another really, really intentional focus on situations and what we need to do better to take care of the ball at the end of games.”
The Warriors had a chance to send the game to overtime. Devin Joseph missed a 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds to play, but Issaquah tipped the ball out of bounds.
The Warriors called a timeout to set up a play. After both teams came back out on the court, Issaquah head coach Jason Griffith countered with a timeout of his own to discuss the Warriors offensive set.
In the end, after all of the matching of wits, Edmonds-Woodway’s inbounds attempt was stolen by Brian Watson, who dribbled out the clock.
“It didn’t work out the way we had planned,” Call said. “We had a miscommunication on the bottom screen. I thought we would get a good look from Jason (Smarr). That was what we were going to. He had hit a couple of 3s in the third quarter for us to get us back into the game, but that’s who they were keying on.”
The Warriors were forced to inbound the ball from the sideline just above the baseline where the Eagles had previously knocked the ball out of bounds — a difficult spot for setting up a play.
“It’s a difficult spot with four seconds to go because you can basically collapse on the whole side of the court,” Call said. “If you have a big guy on the inbounder, it’s tough to skip it.”
The Eagles jumped out to an early 9-4 lead, but Edmonds-Woodway clawed its way back to take a 14-13 lead after the first quarter.
The Warriors, however, dug themselves a hole in the second quarter as the hot shooting of Watson and Lucas Schiltz helped Issaquah build a 35-25 lead at halftime.
Whatever Call told his team at the break seemed to work, the Warriors opened the third quarter on a 15-0 run to turn a 10-point deficit into a five-point advantage.
But the Eagles responded with an 8-0 run of their own to regain the lead at 43-40. Neither team led by more than four the rest of the way.
“I thought that was the best 31/2 minutes that we played post (halftime),” Call said.
The Warriors made a concerted effort to stop Issaquah’s Ty Gibson and they succeeded, holding him scoreless for the game, but Watson and Schlitz each scored 16 to lead the Eagles.
“We shut down Ty the whole game … their leading scorer, which was our focus for the entire game,” Call said. “He’s the best shooter, scorer. He leads the team in scoring, so we were going to make somebody else beat us.”
Offensively, junior Jason Smarr continued his recent streak of productive games, finishing with a game-high 20 points and shooting 7-for-15 from the field.
“Jason is playing really well,” Call said. “He has his moments where he loses a little bit of focus at times. But he’s our energy guy. He plays really well on the bottom of our zone. He shoots well, attacks well. I think he’s the surprise of our team so far.
Smarr said he made an effort to come out more aggressive after halftime.
“I felt like in the first half I came off a little slow,” he said. “I just came in at halftime and was like, ‘I need to go out there and make a difference and I need to make sure my team can win this game because this would be a big (win) on our schedule.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Bothell H.S.
Edmonds-Woodway—Devin Joseph 9, Alex Hull 5, Brad Rice 3, Luke Langdale 2, Jason Smarr 20, Travis Bakken 8, Henry Olson 8. Issaquah—Grant Bair 4, Ryan Sexton 3, Ty Gibson 0, Brain Watson 16, Cory Nevin 9, Jake Henke 16, Lucas Schiltz 6, Gage Lenheim 4, David Van Halm 0. 3-point goals—Hull 1, Smarr 2, Sexton 1, Watson 2, Schiltz 2. Records—Edmonds-Woodway 5-4 overall, Issaquah 7-2.