Riley Carel rode to the rescue. Again. In the midst of a lackluster effort from Enumclaw, Carel found a way to get the Hornets out of Lakewood with another victory, 53-49 over the Clover Park Warriors.
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Carel scored Enumclaw’s final five points Friday, including a falling-away 3-pointer with a hand in his face to ice it with 25 seconds remaining.
“The shot clock was winding down,” said Carel, who led Enumclaw with 16 points. “I had to get something up. It felt good. I was just hoping it looked as good as it felt.”
The Hornets, who trailed most of the way, erupted from the bench. It had been Carel who had given Enumclaw just its third lead of the game – at 50-49 – 58 seconds before the big shot.
After a timeout, Clover Park turned over the ball on the next possession.
Enumclaw ran the shot clock all the way down before Carel found the ball in his hands just outside the 3-point line. Guarded tightly, he took one step back and launched the shot that hit nothing but the net.
“I can’t take credit for drawing that play up,” Hornets coach Phil Engebretsen said. “That last 3 he made was big-time.”
History nearly repeated itself for The News Tribune’s top-ranked Class 3A team.
Almost exactly a year ago, the Hornets traveled to play at Clover Park under similar circumstances.
A year ago, like Friday, Enumclaw came to Clover Park with a stellar record at 13-1. Like a year ago, the Hornets again had the day off from school before driving down to Lakewood.
And like a year ago, the Hornets (16-0 overall, 12-0 SPSL 3A) put forth a lackluster effort for most of the night before Carel’s clutch shots saved the day.
“Maybe there’s a jinx,” Carel said, with a grin. “We had to fight through the adversity. But we pulled through. Clover Park always plays us tough down here. And we had to deal without our big guy.”
Enumclaw played without Tarren VanTrojen. The 6-foot-6 senior stood with crutches and wore a boot over an injured right foot after getting hurt at practice on Wednesday when he came down on a teammate’s foot.
While X-rays and an MRI were negative, VanTrojen still is expected to be out at least a week. That puts his status for Enumclaw’s showdown with No. 4 Lakes next Thursday in jeopardy.
“We’re not going to rush him back,” Engebretsen said. “We hope to have a lot of weeks left in our season. The guy who went unnoticed tonight was Ben Waters (who started in place of VanTrojen). He had six rebounds, a couple of points. He played some big minutes for us.”