When Emerald Ridge Athletic Director Dell Dittus hired Pat Mullen as the head coach of the Jaguars’ boys basketball program in 2011, he knew the school was getting a winner.
Mullen, in his second season after 16 years at Bethel, has transformed Emerald Ridge from South Puget Sound League bottom-feeders to bona-fide contenders.
The Jaguars (12-2) won their ninth straight game Friday, a 64-37 blowout against Graham Kapowsin.
Emerald Ridge team captain Kendall McClain, who scored 13 points against the Eagles, said last year left a bitter taste in his mouth. The Jaguars started 4-1 but wound up 9-11 and missed the playoffs in Mullen’s first year at the helm.
“Last year was an upsetting year,” McClain said. “We just want to make sure we stay consistent and make the playoffs. We are working hard and have a lot of confidence.
“We were pretty excited, but we can’t get too cocky about it,” he said. “We have to stay focused and make sure we are always ready for our next opponent.”
Mullen said the Jaguars are striving to click on all cylinders down the stretch.
“We’re trying to play hard every night,” he said. “We’re just playing well and competing right now. We still have a lot of work to do. We still have seven games left in (SPSL South) league, and this is a tough league.”
Mullen believes if the Jaguars continue to take care of the details, the results will take care of themselves.
“We just want to keep getting better every game, and by the end of the year, hopefully we have gotten to the point that we were fortunate enough to get into the playoffs,” he said.
McClain said he won’t allow complacency to set in with his team.
“I like keeping my guys motivated and get them going,” he said. “We’re going to continue to be focused in practice and do what the coaches tell us. We’re going to do everything that we’re supposed to be doing.”