Everything was on the line Friday night when the Sumner Spartans’ boys basketball team took the floor against one of the top-ranked teams in the 2A classification.
The Spartans answered and cruised to a 62-42 victory against the No. 6 White River Hornets to keep their season alive.
“We knew tonight that if we won, we’re in, and if we lose, we’re out,” Sumner head coach Brett McDaniel said. “This win tonight clinches us at least a fifth-place slot (at the district tournament). To be honest, I can care less where we are seeded. We are in.”
McDaniel said he would have been sad if he didn’t get a chance to see his Spartans (13-7 overall) practice on Monday.
“Our kids have been awesome all year,” he said. “I really mean that. We have something special going on here.
“This is a whole new team this year. Nobody on the court this season had a lot of playing time on last year’s team. Our motto this year has been, ‘We do what we do, and the karma will come.’ We just play the game the right way.”
McDaniel said his team’s man-to-man defense was phenomenal Friday night, holding White River to 10 points in the first half.
He admitted they were fortunate the Hornets were without their best player, point guard Alex Sayler, who missed the game due to an ankle injury.
“They’re an amazing team,” McDaniel said of the Hornets. “We played really well, but Sayler didn’t play. He makes a huge difference for White River.
“We got a break. You take any point guard out of a team, and especially a player of Sayler’s ability, and it is going to hurt your team.”
Sumner point guard Keenan Jackson led the Spartans with 20 points, and guard Riley Bruil added 19.
In celebration, the Spartans shaved McDaniel’s head in the locker room after the game. McDaniel told his team in December he would shave his head if they advanced to the playoffs.
“Keenan Jackson said right around Christmas that, for his winter wish, that I shave my head,” McDaniel said. “I said, ‘I’m not doing it unless something meaningful happens.’ We agreed as a team they could shave my head if we make the playoffs. We did it.”