Boys basketball: Spartans finally snap league title drought

t.cotterill@thenewstribune.comFebruary 8, 2014 

BUCKLEY — It took 35 years, but with the Sumner High School boys basketball team’s 52-43 victory against White River, it now owns a league title.

The Spartans dedicated this season to ending that drought. They bounced back from a midseason rough patch, endured a reality-check practice that preceded a streak of nine wins in 10 games, and capped their season with a formerly elusive 2A South Puget Sound League title Friday night.

“I don’t even know what to say, except this is awesome,” said Sumner guard Riley Bruil, who tied with post Tristan Pearson for a team-high 17 points. “This is what we’ve been gunning for all year. We think our community deserved it.”

No. 10 Sumner (14-6, 12-2 2A SPSL) held a 44-41 lead with 2 minutes, 42 seconds to play. White River’s Dustin France forced Bruil to lose the ball and dived for it, but he was quickly called for traveling. It was a play

that might have led to an easy Hornets fastbreak basket had it gone the other way.

The play came two possessions after White River had been called for a charge on a made basket after another turnover.

“We probably played about 10 different defenses, trying to mix it up, because we know they can execute,” White River coach Rick Tripp said. “It worked pretty well. We just didn’t capitalize in areas we needed to.”

Ninth-ranked White River (13-7, 11-3) shared the league title with Clover Park last year after taking second in league two years ago. A win would have secured the Hornets’ first SPSL title under Tripp.

But winning was a tall order against a Spartans squad that has caught fire since losing three consecutive games in the middle of the season. Coach Brett McDaniel traced his team’s recent success to a practice after a double-overtime loss at Clover Park on Jan. 7.

“We had one of those practices where you don’t want to have too many of or you won’t have a job for too long,” McDaniel said, calling the practice “very spirited.”

“It was one of those practices we needed,” he added. “Since then, the kids have really bought in to how good they can be.”

Sumner started to grab hold of the game in the second quarter, when the Spartans embarked on a 13-2 run. Sumner led at halftime, 26-17.

White River worked its way back by turning up its defensive pressure. The Hornets mixed full-court pressure with a 3-2 zone, which resulted in Sumner playing faster and making more mistakes.

The Spartans almost had as many turnovers (six) as points (eight) in the third quarter. White River trailed 34-30 to start the fourth.

Bruil made five of six free throws in the final 16 seconds to push Sumner’s lead to nine points.

No. 3 Sumner girls 42, at No. 10 White River 38: Five consecutive years of 2A SPSL championship celebrations ended for White River as Sumner pulled away in the fourth quarter to secure its 18th consecutive win and an unbeaten league season.

Sumner claimed the SPSL title in a defensive dogfight. The Spartans made 15 of 51 shots (29.4 percent) but held White River to 16-for-63 shooting (25.4 percent).

“I think this proves some people wrong,” Sumner’s Jamie Lange said. “The norm is, ‘Oh, White River,’ but not this year. This group of girls is so incredible. I don’t think I’ve been on a team like this.”

White River led 26-25 entering the fourth quarter, but Sumner went on a 13-3 run, capped by Anna Hurd’s corner 3-pointer, to take a 40-31 lead with less than two minutes left.

boys basketball: sumner 52, white river 43

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677 @Cotterill44

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