By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — Four first quarter 3-pointers staked Forks to an early 17-11 lead, but the long and rangy Sedro-Woolley Cubs bore down defensively and rolled the Spartans 69-37 in the opening game of the Port Angeles Holiday Tournament.
Forks bounced back Saturday with a 48-45 win over Rochester to take third at the tournament (Details in Monday’s sports section).
Before Friday’s game tipped, Spartans coach Rick Gooding said Sedro-Woolley, a Class 2A member of one of the toughest leagues in the state in the 1A/2A/3A Northwest Conference, would be the best team his squad had faced thus far.
He wasn’t wrong.
“I knew they were going to play 1-3-1 [zone defense], but once they got into a 1-2-2 [in halfcourt], they are just so long they can play it well,” Gooding said. “They are kind of like PA, they use their length to their advantage.”
After Cort Prose knocked down three 3s and Cole Baysinger added another to build Forks’ early advantage, the Cubs closed to within 17-15 with two quick buckets in the final 30 seconds of the opening quarter.
Sedro-Woolley’s run grew to 12-0 when the Cubs amped up their pressure defensively in the half court, turning the Spartans over by playing the passing lanes to near perfection, getting out in transition and sharing the ball to score the first eight points of the second period.
“They do a great job, credit to them for getting in those lanes and turning us over,” Gooding said.
Another Cort Prose 3-pointer pulled Forks within 29-22 midway through the quarter, but Sedro-Woolley closed out the half on a 10-0 run.
When the Cubs weren’t running-and-gunning on fast break opportunities, Sedro-Woolley produced in its half-court sets against the Spartans’ 2-3 zone, getting the ball in the middle of the zone in the high post, hitting jumpers and feeding cutters for layups.
“We let how we were playing, let the score dictate our emotions,” Gooding said. “We were up early, getting after it because we made some shots, but everything leveled out and we didn’t really adjust.
“Instead of changing things like blocking out [for rebounds] or throwing passes over the top, make a move and rip through. “You’ll never hear me complain if a guy makes a good rip through and an opponent gets a hand on the ball just because they are lengthy. You hand it to them on a soft pop, and yeah, I’ll get upset.”
Forks did play better in the third quarter, trimming the Cubs’ advantage to 12 points on two different occasions, sparked in part by some strong play by its guards.
Seth Johnson was fouled and hit a free throw, knocked down a trey and drove for a layup for the Spartans and freshman Tony Flores put in some good work defensively, diving on the court for loose balls.
“I thought Tony Flores came in and played his tail off,” Gooding said. “I wanted to put him back in, but he’s a freshman and I wanted him to get three quarters in a competitive JV game. He hustled his butt off, in the one quarter he played he was on the floor three or four times. He’s got a heck of a future.”
But the Cubs went back to what worked for them earlier, turning Forks over and pushing the pace to increase their lead in the fourth quarter.
While not pleased with how his team responded to Sedro-Woolley’s attacking style, Gooding feels his team can learn from the loss.
“We came here to get better, we knew there would be good competition here, so that’s why we came,” he said.
The Spartans (8-2) are off until they open Evergreen League play at home against Elma on Jan. 2.
Sedro-Woolley 69, Forks 37
Forks 17 5 9 6— 37
S-W 15 24 9 21— 69
Forks (37) — Prose 12, Johnson 6, C. Baysinger 5, A. Flores 3, Morton 2, T. Baysinger 2, Jacoby 1, Baar, T. Flores.
Sedro-Woolley (69) — Isakson 14, Milhelich 14, S. Dejong 12, Hofstad 8, Thompson 6, Fitzpatrick 6, Bartlett 4, Abbott 2, Janicki 2, Guerero 1.