In a game where these teams combined to miss 79 total shots, 39 from long range and commit 30 turnovers – one still had to win.
The difference? A gritty, hustling Darrien Bates for the Wilson High School boys basketball team.
In a battle of two teams that returned most of their key players from their respective trips to the Tacoma Dome a year ago, Wilson edged Enumclaw, 47-44, in a defensive battle on Saturday at Highline College behind Bates’ 13 points and six rebounds.
Wilson made 19 of 65 shots (29.2 percent) as a team, but Bates was 6-for-11 and wrecked some havoc defensively, too.
“Darrien was the difference,” Wilson coach Dave Alwert said. “He was an absolute stud on both sides of the court, protecting the paint and scoring in the paint for us. Without him inside, it’s a different ball game.”
Wilson’s Emmitt Matthews Jr, a UConn signee, had eight points and seven rebounds on 4 of 19 shooting against Enumclaw’s physical defense. Enumclaw coach Terry Johnson deployed 6-foot-6 sophomore guard Peter Erickson on the Rams’ 6-foot-7 wing combined with some helpside pressure.
“We tried to keep him on the perimeter as much as we could,” Johnson said. “He’s so good at getting to the rim and finishing and we challenged our sophomore to guard him and he did most of the game. Peter did an awesome job, and we had a team effort behind him rotating.”
“You are going to have your on games and your off games,” Matthews said. “I’ll be back in the lab after this.
“But Enumclaw is a great opponent. You can’t underestimate anybody and we underestimated them a little bit. But we were resilient down the stretch, even though the shots weren’t falling.”
So far, Johnson thinks his team could be the best defensive team in the state.
But they hadn’t seen one, and might not see another, he says, as fast as Wilson’s.
Enumclaw turned it over 19 times and struggled keeping Wilson’s off the offensive glass. The Hornets thought they got a stop with 21.3 seconds left, trailing 45-42, but when the ball went out of bounds on the sideline, it was ruled off an Enumclaw player and Wilson had one second remaining on the shot clock.
Matthews sent a fadeaway 3-pointer from the corner that was just off the back iron, but Kiwanis Thomas III was there for the rebound before passing it to Stokes. He was fouled and made both of his free throws to make it 47-42, Wilson.
Stokes finished with 11 points.
Erickson, who had a team-high 13 points, scored with 4.8 seconds to play and Stokes missed a free throw on the other end. But one last Enumclaw turnover sealed its fate.
“I thought both teams gave a great defensive effort,” Alwert said. “It came down to one statistic: Turnovers. We turned over Enumclaw more than we turned the ball over, and they are a really good squad.”
Kaden Anderson added nine points and 10 rebounds for Enumclaw, which made 16 of 49 shots (32.7 percent) for the game.
But Enumclaw struggled throughout against Wilson’s full-court press, which Bates said they call their “Louisville” defense.
“I think as long as we play as a team and we play together, that’s what really helps us,” Bates said. “When people got down and weren’t hitting shots, pick them up and we stay positive and listen to our coaches.”
Both teams have big games coming up.
Enumclaw faces Federal Way on Thursday in what could be a matchup between the top two 4A North Puget Sound League Olympic division teams.
And Wilson hosts Lakes on Wednesday before traveling to defending 3A Pierce County League champion Lincoln on Friday.
“Sometimes the ball doesn’t fall and so your defense has to be stout,” Alwert said. “And we did a really good job of keeping them in the 40s tonight. That’s a big positive for us, and hopefully we can do that same thing next week.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
Enumclaw: Kaden Anderson 9, Griffin Webb 6, Bryson Engebretsen 6, Kellen Kranc 4, Peter Erickson 13, Travis Smith 3, Josh Brown 3.
Wilson: Emmitt Matthews Jr. 8, Daniel Santana 7, Nathaniel Stokes 11, Darrien Bates 13, Adam Maxon 2, Kiwanis Thomas III 4, Dominique Ellison 2.