Going into the season, the Sumner Spartans were proverbial underdogs.
Last year, a senior-laden team advanced to the first round of the Class 2A state-regional playoffs but was eliminated by eventual champion Lynden.
The Spartans, who returned just two varsity players and no starters from last year’s 21-win team, are 7-6 halfway through the regular season. Head coach Brett McDaniel said his team is performing well despite the lack of experience.
“We’re starting three sophomores and a couple of juniors,” McDaniel said. “Everyone is new. We’re a guard-driven team and have three special players at that position. Riley Burl, Austin Ford and Keenan Jackson are leading us. They play the majority of the game and set the tone.”
The Spartans’ lack of height creates an atmosphere where guard play and pushing the ball up the floor are paramount.
“The tallest player on our team this year is 6 feet, 2 inches,” McDaniel said. “We are undersized, but we’re grinding out games.
“We’re doing a pretty good job thus far,” he added. “We’re nowhere near where we want to be at but are working hard to get there. We’re doing as much as we can to be in playoff position.”
McDaniel said the future of the program is bright. The Spartans’ junior varsity team is 10-2 and their C team is 10-1.
“To have those kinds of records when almost everyone in our high school program is new this year speaks volumes,” he said. “Our youth-development program over the last couple of years has had a huge impact on our program.”
Sports Editor Shaun Scott can be reached at 253-552-7002 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter, @herald_shaun.