The Sumner High boys basketball team and first-year coach Jake Jackson haven’t had the start to the season that they had hoped for, but heading into the break, things are looking up.
Sumner entered the week winless (0-8, 0-6) after its double-overtime 62-59 loss to Enumclaw at ShoWare Center last week, the Spartans are still learning about who they are and their coach’s idenity.
“We’re probably the youngest team I’ve been on at Sumner,” senior Seth Carnahan said. “I was the only freshman on the team when during my freshman season. We have three on the roster, and they don’t play like freshman.”
Right now, three freshman are getting significant playing time, with the 6-foot-3 Mitchell Wolfe getting the most of those minutes.
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I was the only freshman on the team when during my freshman season. We have three on the roster, and they don’t play like freshman.
“Mitchell doesn’t play like a freshman,” Carnahan said. “When you watch him, you wouldn’t think he’s a freshman. He has so much potential ahead of him. All the young guys do.”
Wolfe is joined by fellow freshmen Mason Donovan and Josh Lear, as the trio try to help Jackson establish his “one-heart” team approach.
“It can take time to establish how you want to run your team, and for them to warm up to the new staff’s approach,” Jackson said. “My first year at Peninsula, we won four games, but we built that program up to a playoff team. That’s what is happening here.”
That first season Jackson led the Seahawks, it didn’t start out the way he had hoped.
My first year at Peninsula, we won four games, but we built that program up to a playoff team. That’s what is happening here.
Sumner coach Jake Jackson
But by the end of his tenure with Peninsula, the Seahawks were a 21-4 team, and Jackson had helped develop one of the top basketball players in the state in now-Oregon State freshman JaQuori McLaughlin.
“I know having (Jackson) as my coach for four years is going to help me develop my game,” Wolfe said. “For him to have confidence in the young guys, that means a lot to us.”
When Jackson took over, one of the first attractions was the Spartan Hoops Camp that former coach Brett McDaniel established, as those camps demonstrated to Jackson the ability to create a feeder team that can he can take over and run with.
In that time, Jackson — along with girls coach Jordan Moog — have begun to help shift the mindset of the school itself.
I think ‘one heart’ means we play together, and we play hard the whole game.
No longer are the programs separated by “boys” and “girls” identification, but rather they are all just representatives of Spartan Hoops.
“That’s what I think has been great this year this school has sort of taken that to heart,” Carnahan said.
It’s not a matter of if Sumner can find itself this year as the Spartans moved up into the 4A SPSL and play tough competition each night.
What matters most to Sumner basketball is that moniker that Jackson has brought with him as the Spartans attempt to step into the next chapter of the program.
“I think ‘one heart’ means we play together, and we play hard the whole game,” Thane Birrer said.