With a slew of COVID-19-related cancellations across the local high school basketball landscape, last week’s schedule was a bit thinner than usual. But nevertheless, here’s a look at some of the top highlights and storylines from around the area:
SHORECREST BOYS ROUT STANWOOD, RACE TO ANOTHER BIG WIN
The Shorecrest boys sent a message to the rest of Wesco 3A/2A by racing past fellow league-title contender Stanwood for an 88-68 win last Thursday night.
The Scots (11-1, 7-1 Wesco 3A/2A) were firing on all cylinders from the opening tip, using a first-quarter blitz to jump to an early 30-9 lead. Stanwood (6-5, 5-2), which handed Arlington its first conference loss just six days prior, made several runs to close the gap. But Shorecrest’s bevy of weapons was simply too much.
The Scots have lit up the scoreboard all season, averaging 75.6 points per game with their fast-paced attack. They’ve won 10 of their 12 contests by double digits and have outscored opponents by 18.6 points per game. Their only blemish was an 83-80 overtime loss to Arlington on Dec. 14.
“I think they’re probably the best team that we’ve faced this year,” Stanwood coach Josh Thayer said. “… They’ve got a lot of pieces.”
Shorecrest is led by standout senior point guard Elijah Johnson, who expertly runs the show for the high-octane Scots. Johnson, one of the area’s premier scorers, can rack up points from all three levels of the court. And he’s equally masterful at distributing the ball to his talented array of teammates.
“He can do it all,” Shorecrest senior Devon Nehring said. “Everybody in Washington knows they can’t leave Elijah alone, because he’ll put 30 on you. But if they start guarding him, he’ll have 15-plus assists. So we all work around Elijah.”
“He’s the glue of our team,” Scots coach Eddie George added.
But he’s far from their only impact playmaker.
Parker Baumann, a 6-foot-5 junior, is an athletic and skilled wing who can score in a variety of ways. Newton Pepple, a 6-foot-5 senior post, is a force inside. And then there’s the versatile 6-foot-6 Nehring, who had a breakout performance against Stanwood with three dunks and a team-high 24 points in his first game back since missing time with COVID-19.
“I think we can do something real special,” Johnson said. “… I feel like a lot of people in the state sleep on us, because Shorecrest isn’t a well-known school for sports. But I think we’re here to make a statement.”
ARLINGTON, TERRACE BOYS EARN TIGHT WINS TO KEEP PACE IN WESCO 3A/2A
The Arlington and Mountlake Terrace boys each narrowly avoided a loss last week to keep pace with Shorecrest in the Wesco 3A/2A title race. Arlington edged Edmonds-Woodway for a 55-52 win last Tuesday, while Mountlake Terrace prevailed for a 56-53 victory over Snohomish last Thursday.
Heading into this week, four teams are tied atop the loss column in the league standings: Shorecrest (11-1, 7-1 Wesco 3A/2A), Arlington (8-3, 6-1), Mountlake Terrace (7-1, 4-1) and Marysville Pilchuck (4-3, 4-1).
This is a particularly pivotal week for Mountlake Terrace, which faces Shorecrest on Wednesday night and Stanwood (6-5, 5-2) on Thursday night. The Hawks have won six consecutive games since falling to Arlington 70-55 in their lone loss of the season.
WESCO 4A BOYS FAVORITES HOLD SERVE
Heading into the start of Wesco 4A play, the Glacier Peak, Jackson and Mariner boys looked like the favorites in what’s expected to be a highly competitive five-team league.
And last week, all three teams reinforced their status as league favorites with double-digit victories in their conference openers. Glacier Peak beat Kamiak 58-41 last Wednesday, Mariner routed Lake Stevens 75-53 last Wednesday and Jackson dispatched Kamiak 59-47 last Thursday.
This week’s Wesco 4A slate features a pair of pivotal matchups, both involving Jackson. The Timberwolves (10-1, 1-0 Wesco 4A) face Mariner (7-6, 1-0) on Monday night and then square off against Glacier Peak (6-1, 1-0) on Friday night. Each of the league’s five teams are scheduled to face one another twice in conference play.
KAMIAK GIRLS OFF TO GOOD LEAGUE START
On the girls side, Lake Stevens is the clear-cut favorite in the four-team Wesco 4A. The Vikings (10-1, 2-0 Wesco 4A) are widely considered a state-caliber team and have cruised past their first two conference opponents, routing Glacier Peak 70-32 and Jackson 59-37.
But assuming Lake Stevens is the class of Wesco 4A this season, which of the league’s other three teams will take the No. 2 spot? Kamiak is off to an early lead in that race. The Knights (6-5, 2-0) won their first two conference games last week, edging Glacier Peak 59-57 last Wednesday and beating Jackson 63-55 last Friday.