As Kim Smothermon’s final season as Woodinville coach comes to a conclusion, her Lady Falcons have won another gymnastics district title and now eye another state championship for the fond farewell.
At the district meet held last Saturday at Mount Si High School, Woodinville finished first with a score of 177.625. Newport, Bothell and Camas rounded out the standings.
Woodinville’s Emily Paratore finished in 1st place on the Beam and 2nd place on the Bars, while teammate Marisa Savage won the Bars and All Around competitions, while finishing in 3rd place on the Beam.
It was déjà vu all over again, even if it wasn’t Deja Strother all over again.
Led by the 14 points from Alex Hagen, the Inglemoor Vikings defeated the Woodinville Lady Falcons57-39 last Friday night in KingCo tournament play. It marked the third time in a row this season that Inglemoor has beaten their longtime rival.
In the first two games, Viking center Deja Strother was the dominant force in the middle that made all the difference. This time around, the swarming Falcon defense double teamed the low post and kept the 6’4" Strother in check with 9 points. But it was Woodinville’s woeful shooting that sealed the Falcons’ fate in this frustrating loss at Juanita High School Feb. 15th.
"They played a zone the whole game and you’ve got to hit some outside shots to pull them out a little bit," Woodinville coach Scott Bullock said. "Unfortunately we didn’t shoot well from the outside. At halftime we were down 22-13 and we were pretty excited about how we played defensively. We didn’t give Strother anything easy inside. We worked a lot all week on doubling down in the post and keeping that stuff out of there. I thought we did a great job (defensively) but you’ve got to score some points to win.
You can call me many things, but The Amazing Kreskin isn’t one of them.
It was back on December 19th, after Tony Miller nailed a clutch free throw with one second left to lift Woodinville past Bothell 71-70, that I took to my laptop with gusto. The gymnasium had been abuzz, the players ecstatic, and yours truly wrote that the game would serve as a "watershed moment for Woodinville basketball."
But instead, the season soon took on water, finally sinking under the weight of 13 consecutive losses. Woodinville finished the campaign at 1-13 in KingCo and 4-16 overall. As team trainer Shan Souza told me with a smirk, "You jinxed them!"
Yes, when viewed from 30,000 feet, it seems like a lost season. But when inspected up close, many hopeful signs emerge for the future.
Of the 16 losses, 6 were within 5 points, and the vast majority of games went down to the wire.
Only two of the losses (Garfield and Issaquah) were blowouts. The bottom line is Woodinville did improve this season from a competitive standpoint.
In retrospect, the roots of this season’s woes start with the December injury to point guard Tommy Wick. While scoring a critical basket in the win over Bothell, Wick landed awkwardly on his foot and fractured two bones in his leg. His prep career was over in an instant, and the young Falcons were left to fend without their floor leader.
"At times we lacked that senior leadership that can’t be replaced," Woodinville’s 2nd year coach Mark Folsom said. "Tommy Wick was someone that everyone leaned on. We became a team that had to find a new identity. There was a level of comfort in having Tommy there. That gave us the confidence that we could go in and really compete with anybody. If you look at the losing streak, there were only a couple games where we didn’t compete. For all the other games, we were right there. In the heat of battle it can be easy to lose sight of that fact."
The toughness of the team showed itself in its darkest hours, Folsom said.
"As a staff, we were pleasantly surprised to see that our guys came in to practice and approached every single game as if we were competing for a championship. Literally every single day. We never saw a letdown in practice, and our kids continued to compete and fight. This was a resilient group of kids."
Plenty of talent returns for the 2014-15 season. Senior-to-be Zack Oates was just named Honorable Mention All-KingCo, while Tony Miller was named 1st team All-KingCo. According to the team website, Miller is the first Falcon ever named to KingCo’s first team. He will be a junior.
"We lost four seniors," Folsom said. "We lost Jay Wyrick, Peter Lemke, Tommy Wick and Payton Tirrell. But we’ve got a core group of returning guys: Ryan Gregor, Zack Oates, Mitchell Jones, Tony Miller, Noble Cooper and Lance Coomar. A returning group that gave us valuable minutes this year. Having a year of varsity experience under their belts will be good.
"It comes down to understanding that every single possession is so important on both ends of the floor," he said. "That understanding comes with experience.
" I think the one thing they can all take from this year is that their coach always talked about valuing the basketball and every possession and to make sure that we maximize those throughout every game. We will be better for it next year. This season was a learning experience for us all —coaches included."
With this year in the books and next year’s on the horizon, I look at the jaw-dropping talent of Tony Miller and the emergence of Zack Oates, plus a gritty supporting cast, and I must don my Carnac the Magnificent hat and toss out this little gem: The Woodinville Falcons will be winners next year.
The Woodinville Falcons finished third at the regional tournament held last Saturday at Inglemoor High School. Five wrestlers, Ryan Christensen, Dalton Mann, Everett Bingisser, Zachary Gracia and Cole Stemmerman will represent Woodinville at next week’s State Championships in the Tacoma Dome. Cole Morrison will be attending as an alternate.
"Our overall goal is to finish in the top 10 in State," senior Ryan Christensen said.
Ryan’s father, Todd, is Woodinville’s head coach, and the elder Christensen was happy with Saturday’s results.
"As a team we wrestled really well," he said. "We were the top team from the KingCo district with over 100 team points. All year long we’ve had strong senior leadership and we’re sending 5 seniors to State."
Some interesting stories took place on Saturday. Cole Stemmerman, who lost to Ballard’s Jack Deal last week at the KingCo tourney, squared off against him again with the winner going to State and the loser going home.
"Cole beat Jack Deal in the rematch, so that was a big deal for us," coach Christensen said. "Great match by Cole. He actually pinned him — so that was even better yet!"
Three Falcons reached the regional finals in their respective weight classes. Ryan Christensen (182) won his weight class, while Dalton Mann (145) and Everett Bingisser (152) finished as runner-ups.
"We did it as a team," coach Christensen said. "We took 10 wrestlers there and almost every one of them won at least a match or two. We picked up a lot of team points across the board."
With teams from as far away as the Olympic Peninsula and Southwest Washington competing in regionals, Christensen was asked if there was any camaraderie amongst KingCo schools.
"It’s widely known around the state that KingCo is not a great wrestling district," he said. "So when we come to a tournament like this, we actually do pull together quite a bit. We root for each other and I get along well with all the coaches across the league."
And what of his team’s odds of a strong finish at next week’s Mat Classic at the Tacoma Dome?
"We probably need all five of these guys to place, so it’s going to be close. They’re all capable of placing at State. We’ll show up and wrestle hard and we’ll have a crack at the top 10."
Deb Stemmerman photo.
Woodinville senior Zach Gracia finished third in his weight class and qualified for the State tournament.
Falcon wrestler Dalton Mann finished in 2nd place in his weight class at the Regional tournament Feb 15th at Inglemoor High School.
Before the game, as spectators endeavored to fill the grandstands and a pep band blared some upbeat tunes, you could tell this was not an ordinary junior high school basketball game.
Indeed, the specialty of the occasion came not only from these two rivals, Leota and Timbercrest, playing for the league title, but that many of the kids are teammates on the same Woodinville Select Basketball Team.
So the gymnasium at Leota Junior High was the scene for this civil war of the hard courts. And the fans weren’t disappointed, as Timbercrest fended off a resilient Leota squad 40-36 to win the championship. Timbercrest finished with a 10-0 record while Leota ended up at 8-2, with both losses coming by way of Timbercrest.
Both teams started the game a bit tight, with Timbercrest leading after the first period, 8-6. But then things loosened up, and shots started dropping a little more. There was noticeable hustle from players such as Nash Fouch, Brett Accimus and Srinu Koritela from Leota, as well as Johnny Bell and Tyler Rod from Timbercrest.
Heading into the final quarter, Timbercrest led 29-22 and it looked like victory was inevitable. But then Leota mounted a rally. When Cade Beresford knocked down a free throw with 3:00 left in the game, the Timbercrest lead was down to a mere 35-31.
But in the game’s final minute, as Timbercrest preserved the lead by running off some clock, they attempted a shot and missed – before Ty Wyrick zipped into the lane to snare the offensive rebound – and that sealed the deal.
Final score: Timbercrest 40, Leota 36.
In the game’s noisy aftermath, as the two teams congratulated each other and the band started up again, Timbercrest’s Matthew Schram was asked what it was like playing against his buddies from Leota.
"It was fun," Schram said. "Sometimes we would laugh it off and sometimes it made us play harder, for the smack talk and having bragging rights after this."
"There will definitely be a little bit of bragging," Timbercrest’s Andrew Ng said. "It’s going to be fun. I think this will motivate them harder to practice, and so next time it will be harder to beat them."
When asked for the key to victory, Ng said, "Our coach is great. He made all this possible."
The Timbercrest coach is Duayne Primc, and he spoke of his team’s balanced attack on offense.
"We haven’t relied on one or two guys all year," he said. "We’ve had about six games where every kid has scored. It’s pretty cool. So everybody chips in their part, and when we need a bucket, they get it to the open guy and they usually come through.
Photo by Dale Garvey. Leota’s Brett Accimus (#12) attempts a shot while being guarded by Johnny Bell of Timbercrest