The Sumner High boys basketball team is getting close, but there’s still work to do for the Spartans when it comes to closing out games.
Sumner (8-4, 2-4 3A SPSL) had a strong showing last week, finishing with a 57-50 win Saturday night over White River (8-4, 5-1) in Buckley. The win against their former 2A SPSL rival bookended the Spartans week after starting it off with a league victory over Auburn.
“(White River) has a great coach and is a great program. We always love coming up here,” Sumner coach Brett McDaniel said. “I don’t think we ever had a game go more than five points either way. It’s always been close, and no one gets most out of their team than (White River coach) Rick Tripp.”
And that’s what McDaniel is trying to do with his team — get the most out of them, especially with the playoffs looming in the distance.
Even with wins over Auburn (62-59 on Jan. 5) and White River, the 3A SPSL league loss to Enumclaw (57-53 on Jan. 8) reveals the Spartans’ weakness when it comes to closing out games. After the Surf N’ Slam tournament in San Diego, McDaniel said his team needed to fix the issue to make any headway next month.
“We won our bracket, but we could have won (some) of our games by more points than we did,” McDaniel said. “We let teams there come back and make the finish to games closer than we wanted. It’s going to be crucial for our success to figure that out … our league is tougher than the teams we played in San Diego.”
But the win at White River demonstrated Sumner may be figuring it all out as the Spartans held off the Hornets’ fourth-quarter comeback behind the timely shooting of Dawson Cutright, who had a team-high 15 points.
“I just saw us doing the things that everybody else could do (and) doing it at our best, like rebounding and and play good defense,” Cutright said.
Seth Carnahan chipped in with nine points, Austin Avey had eight and Michael Carey added seven in the win.
“We were hungry for (White River) — it was fun,” said Avey whose defense helped create several fast break opportunities for Sumner. “(We) sat down and had a little a discussion about how all our focus should be on our defense, and let our offense feed off that.“
Wins over Bonney Lake (3-9, 1-5) on Tuesday and third-place Auburn Riverside (8-4, 4-2) on Friday can put Sumner back on the league map.
“If we can start strong and then finish our games like we should, I think we’ll be good,” Cutright said.
In a meeting with both all-city rivals, Puyallup (11-3, 4A SPSL 5-2) took down both Emerald Ridge (48-43 on Jan. 5) and Rogers (68-57 on Jan. 7).
Even with Saturday’s 67-62 loss to Spanaway Lake, victories against city rivals helped keep Puyallup in second place entering the week.
“It never matters what the records are when you go play your rivals. Every game is competitive and close,” Puyallup coach Scott Campbell said.
Cougar boys climb
After entering the new year three games under .500, Cascade Christian (5-6) picked up a couple key wins, beating Hoqiuam, 77-72 in overtime, and Charles Wright, 60-31.
The Cougars can continue to improve upon their record starting Tuesday when they travel to Seattle Christian before closing the week hosting Bellevue Christian.