Just one year removed from playing on the Fife High boys basketball ‘C’ team, junior forward Jephthah Donker is starting to feel quite comfortable on the varsity squad.
With the kind of performance he put on Friday night against SPSL 2A rival Clover Park, it’s easy to see why.
Donker came off the bench to score a game-high 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks as Fife (11-3, 6-2 2A SPSL) stayed in the race for the league title with a 47-40 win over Clover Park at home.
Working in tandem with 6-foot-8 center Kaleb “Big Country” McGary, the 6-4 Donker dominated the low post. The large presence of McGary, who scored seven points and grabbed 13 rebounds, opened things up on offense for Donker, who scored most of his points on point-blank shots and putbacks off offensive rebounds.
“Me and Country have been working together all season,” said Donker, who has only played organized basketball for two years. “We’ve been trying to do big things. As you can see, he did work, I did work, and it paid off for us.”
Down 11-10 after the first quarter, Donker scored six straight points to push the Trojans’ lead to 18-11 with just over a minute to play in the half.
“We had to set the tone from the start,” Donker said.
Clover Park (6-6, 4-4) struggled mightily in the second quarter — scoring only two points — to trail 20-13 at the half.
The Warriors did make a push early in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 26-20, but the Trojans regrouped and led 35-24 after three.
“I thought our defensive energy and rebounding was great from start to finish,” Fife coach Mark Schelbert said. “We had one lull there in the third quarter when they made their run. Other than that, we executed our defensive game plan pretty well.”
Fife was playing without starting point guard Austin Woods, but got strong play from guard Alex Lemoncelli, who orchestrated the offense and scored 11 points to go along with his five steals.
“With one of our main guys out, to do what we did tonight, I’m just really happy and proud of all our guys,” said Schelbert, whose team swept the season series from the Warriors.
Winston, who scored 42 points in an overtime loss to Steilacoom on Tuesday, led Clover Park with 16. Eric Obee added 10 for the Warriors, who shot just 36 percent from the field and turned the ball over 21 times.
“They whipped us pretty good tonight,” Clover Park coach Mel Ninnis said. “Our patience on offense all night long fell apart. It’s up to me to do a better job preparing them so that doesn’t happen.”