Summer basketball team 5-2 at camp, win championship

The Sweet Home High School basketball team wrapped its summer schedule up with 5-2 record at team camp and a first-place finish in a Portland tournament.

The team traveled to Sedro-Wooley High School June 19-22, about an hour north of Seattle, for team camp. The team won five games there and narrowly lost two.

The Huskies defeated Rainier 40-37 to open the tournament. Eastmont of Wenatchee, a 5A school, defeated the Huskies 49-45. The Huskies defeated 4A Sedro-Wooley 50-40, lost to 3A Hoquiam of Cheney 50-47, and defeated 2A CleElum of the Tri-Cities 54-18 and 3A Yelm of Olympia 35-33 and 3A UF West 35-31 in overtime.

Among highlights, “we had a severe free throw drought,” Coach Mark Risen said. “We missed seven free throws in a row the last three minutes” of one game. The Huskies had a 10-point lead cut to one when Cody Shipp hit a free throw to make a two-point lead and forced a turnover to seal the win.

Against UF West, Tim Matuszak hit two free throws with 4.8 seconds left in overtime to win the game.

Against CleElum, the Huskies played everyone on the trip, a total of 20 athletes.

“Obviously, they were very competitive games,” Coach Risen said. “We were in a variety of sizes of schools (Sweet Home would match up with smaller Washington 3A schools).”

Washington’s teams were well-coached, and the Huskies had to play well to get their wins, Coach Risen said. Hoquiam was fourth at state with everyone back. Eastmont was a 5A.

“We were playing two high-power teams to the wire,” Coach Risen said, and that gives a picture of how well the Huskies did in the camp. “Going 5-2, we’re very excited about that. The kids have played better and better and better throughout the summer.”

At Sedro-Wooley, they had to face a variety of new presses, defenses, offenses, big posts and some exceptional guard play.

During the camp, Tyler Emmert gave a stellar performance notching double double averages. His play would have earned him a first- team all-league award in the Capital Conference.

One coach told Coach Risen Anthony Mink and Matuszak were the best guard duo he’s seen all summer.

“As a pair, they are very, very difficult to stop,” Coach risen said. “They compliment each other well, and they’re just tenacious.”

Matt Morneault and Ravi Patel went into the starting lineup during the team camp, Coach Risen said. “They answered the call. I felt we played very fluidly with them in the starting lineup.”

The Huskies’ don’t stop there with the big guns.

“We bring in more firepower off the bench,” Coach risen said. Three seniors bring leadership to the bench and a punch to the floor.

“You want your guys coming off the bench to make a spark,” Coach risen said. “We’re going up the quality a notch because we have fresh legs.”

Those three players are Mike Severns, Seth Graves and Ronak Patel.

Sophomore Shipp also explodes from the bench along with Charlie Fitzsimons, Ryan Elliott, Garrett Kauffman and Alex Ritzman.

This bench has gone onto the floor and put the Huskies back in a game or established a decisive lead with 12-0 and 16-0 runs, Coach Risen said. A run may come from the starters, the bench of a combination at any time.

“The number-one thing I want to talk about is their chemistry,” Coach Risen said. “We have incredible chemistry.”

The Huskies can blend the lineup on the floor in a variety of ways and still have as effective a lineup as any other group, he said, bringing to mind the state runnerup 1998-99 summer team.

This team has given up a maximum of 57 points and a minimum of 16 points this summer. About 80 percent of teams score in the low 30s against the Huskies.

“Defensively, we have just flat been tight, and kids have made just amazing strides,” Coach Risen said. Offensively, the team patiently works an offense averaging 45 points per game, “so there’s an incredible amount of similarity to the older team.”

The team makes all the little things happen, the hustle plays, winning the last four minutes, free throws and more, Coach Risen said. “We’re just outplaying people. This is a team we let take the opportunities for fast breaks. They get unselfish and creative. They also have the ability to pull the ball out to run a structured offense till we get the look we want.”

That happened about 40 percent of the time at the beginning of the season, Coach Risen said. Now it happens about 95 percent of the time.

The team ends summer season 16-5 and is just 11 points away from being 20-1.

All five of the teams losses were on tired legs, the second or third games of tournaments.

The Huskies lost their first matchup with Rainier in a third game, but they came back and defeated Rainier at Sedro-Wooley then again at a tournament the following week in Portland.

“I think part of our style, we play like kids from Sweet Home should play,” Coach Risen said. That means they give everything in every game, and they play man-to-man defense the whole way, which can tire them out in later games.

Oregon Episcopal in Portland June 27-28 was the icing on the summer season’s cake.

The Huskies defeated a mix of 2A and 3A teams to win the tournament.

They opened with a 52-29 win over Banks. The Huskies were down 18-11 with about nine minutes left in the first half, “then they didn’t score for the next 23 minutes,” Coach Risen said. “That has become a habit of our team.”

In every game this summer, they’ve held their opponents scoreless at least six minutes.

They defeated IMS 63-16 and held their opponent scoreless 31 minutes of the 40-minute game.

The Huskies defeated Rainier 44-33.

“Our defense is absolutely suffocating,” Coach Risen said. “We want them so frustrated they’re just throwing the ball at the hoop.”

Rainier scored only six of its points in the second half.

The Huskies defeated Jefferson 47-34. Fitzsimons marked 16 points and four assists. Ritzman had 14 rebounds. Kauffman had 10 points and 10 boards.

“I was just really pleased,” Coach Risen said. “They just did a great job. Defensively, we didn’t miss a beat.”

The Huskies moved on to the championship with Salem Academy, winning 44-33.

“They’ve got a nice club,” Coach Risen said. “They came out and just pounded it inside with us.”

The Huskies led only 25-24 at halftime, but held Salem Academy’s offense down in the second half to get the win.

“The kids go home for the summer very confident,” Coach Risen said. “I think you can see we’ve rebuilt.”

All last season, the team and coaching staff had to stay patient, Coach Risen said. The team is now reaping the dividends.

“Pending no injuries, I think we’re going to have a great year,” Coach Risen said. “I think if we continue, I think we’ll have a banner year next year.”

Playing junior varsity ball at Sedro-Wooley were Tim Faulconer, Aaron Forquer, Mark Lewis, Ben Schmidt, Brandon Smith, Andy Worley and Isaac Villareal. Swinging when they weren’t playing in varsity games were Ritzman, Fitzsimons, Shipp, Elliott, Morneault and Kauffman. The team went 5-3 during the camp.

At the local team camp directed by Husky junior varsity coach Tim Little, 27 girls and 57 boys participated, earning the girls and boys basketball programs some $1,500.