By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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Sequim took sixth place at the Class 2A state tournament last year, but they were losing a handful of seniors, including Jayson Brocklesby and Gabe Carter, whose names are all over the school record books. (I won’t even list those accomplishments, because this isn’t about them anymore.)
Glasser acknowledged the contributions of the departing seniors, but also expressed excitement about those coming back.
Before the start of this season, Glasser revealed how good he thought Sequim could be, writing in an email: “I believe our guys will have the opportunity to compete for a league championship this year if they put the team first.”
Well, here they are.
The Wolves will play Bremerton tonight at 7 p.m. at Sequim High School’s Rick Kaps Gym with the Olympic League Championship on the line.
Anthony Pinza, Alex Barry, Rory Kallappa and Erik Christensen all started or played significant minutes for last year’s state-placers.
All four are even better players this year, but equally important are the contributions of varsity newcomers such as Vance Willis, George Johnson, Josh McConnaughey and Jesse Francis.
But who Sequim has isn’t the main reason why it is one win away from a league title. What’s more important is how those players play.
“I honestly wasn’t expecting it, coming into the preseason,” Christensen said of the Wolves being in position for a league championship.
“It’s surprising, but we work really well as a team. We share the ball really well.”
Barry is Sequim’s leading scorer this season, but points have come from everywhere: Kallappa, Pinza, Christensen and Willis also have had big scoring nights. McConnaughey had 10 points and seven rebounds in an overtime win over Olympic last month. Francis scored nine in the win over North Kitsap last week.
“The thing with this group is they really like each other. From No. 1 all the way down to No. 11, they really like each other, they get along,” Glasser said last month.
“And they don’t care. The don’t care if Alex is shooting the ball from [far beyond the 3-point line]. They don’t care if it’s Rory on a given night, or Erik. It doesn’t matter. They don’t care.
“They just want to play well, they want to play together and they want to compete to win.
“They’re just really good kids, so I take my hat off to their parents, too.”
In tonight’s game, Sequim faces the best player in the Olympic League, Bremerton’s Deonte Dixon. But the Wolves just want to be the best team.
“I really want to win that game,” Pinza said after last week’s win over Port Angeles.
“Senior night, league title; it would mean a lot to go out on that note.”
Bentz is next
There’s no shortage of standout point guards among the girls basketball teams of the North Olympic Peninsula.
Port Angeles’ Maddy Hinrichs and Port Townsend’s Jewel Johnson were selected to the All-Olympic League First Team last season, while Neah Bay’s Cierra Moss was North Olympic League MVP.
All three graduate this year, and sophomore McKenzie Bentz of Sequim highlights the next crop of point guards.
Last week, the Wolves took league-champion Port Angeles down to the wire before falling 45-41.
Hinrichs scored the game-sealing layup in the final seconds, but was held to seven points in the game, half of her season average.
“Part of that is McKenzie Bentz,” Roughriders coach Michael Poindexter said.
“McKenzie Bentz defended Maddy well.”
With a win at Bremerton tonight, Sequim earns a spot in the West Central District playoffs.
With young players like Bentz, along with others such as Caitlin Stofferahn, Elise Beuke, Hailey Lester and Jordan Miller, the Wolves’ future beyond the postseason is bright.
“She’s an extremely underrated player, and for a sophomore, she’s impressive,” Sequim coach Evan Still said of Bentz.
“She’s going to be a good player for us, in the future especially. We’re excited to have her.
Big games tonight
Although not all Peninsula teams have finished their regular seasons, the postseason begins tonight for Forks’ boys and girls teams.
The Forks boys face King’s Way Christian in a District IV play-in game at Castle Rock High School.
The girls, meanwhile, play La Center at Kalama High School in a District IV play-in game that was originally slated for Monday at Castle Rock but postponed due to weather.
Other big games tonight:
■ Quilcene’s boys and girls teams have important games that will determine their postseason hopes on the road against Christian Faith.
■ The Port Angeles girls host Port Townsend at 7 p.m. in the final home game for Riders seniors Hinrichs, Krista Johnson, Kylee Jeffers, Bailee Jones, Brittany Norberg, Payton Lee and Lenora Hofer.
■ The Port Townsend boys have their senior night against Port Angeles tonight in the final home game for Cody Russell, Paul Spaltenstein, Skyler Coppenrath, Jacob King, Daniel Charlton and James Delagarza.
Sports Editor Lee Horton can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.