Top performer: Alex Cruz, Orting
Pinned three opponents, including one in 47 seconds, in first day of the Five Counties Tournament in California
It’s was a strong first day for the Orting High School boys wrestling team. It’s in Fountain Valley, California, competing in the prestigious Five Counties Tournament.
It sent four of its five wrestlers from the round of 64 and into the final eight of their respective weight classes on Friday, including University of Virginia signee Alex Cruz in the 138-pound weight class.
The quarterfinals, semis and championships will continue on Saturday.
“We got five kids down here and we got four in the quarterfinals” Orting coach Jody Coleman said from Joe’s Crab Shack, where the team was having a celebration dinner after their first day.
Bonney Lake’s wrestling team is there, too, and also had four wrestlers advance to the quarterfinals, led by Oregon State signee Brandon Kaylor (120 pounds). They also have Yusief Lillie (106), Brenden Chaowanapibool (113) and defending WIAA state champion Sam Peterson (220).
Orting’s Chrys Cenkush (120 pounds), Jacob Flores (126), and Darius Gilcrist (182) have also advanced, with Flores winning an all-South Sound match against Bonney Lake’s Evan Tracy, 11-2, before pinning Fernando Godoy of Oxnard, California, in the round of 16.
Cruz pinned his first opponent in 47 seconds, then his second in 1:06 and his third, Dylan Kohler of Chula Vista, California, in 2:29. Cruz is a three-time WIAA state wrestling champion and is ranked as the No. 10 132-pound wrestler in the nation by FloWrestling.
“Alex, he’s cruising along. He looks really good.” Coleman said. “I don’t think he’s been challenged yet. I think the next couple rounds he’ll have some real quality rounds. Hopefully, he’ll make finals.”
He’s looking forward to maybe a potential showdown with the No. 4-ranked 138-pound wrestler in the nation, with Rancho Bernardo, California, standout Jaden Abas on the other side of the bracket.
Jaden’s father, Gerry Abas, is considered one of California’s all-time great wrestlers as a four-time All-American and a three-time NCAA Division I national finalist when he wrestled at Fresno State University.
Also looking strong and in a new weight class is Orting’s Cenkush.
“Chrys Cenkush, he’s wrestling really well. He’s down at 120 for the first time this year, he’s looking really good,” Coleman said. “It’s pretty tough down here. In the next two rounds, all the kids are pretty solid.”
Orting also has an ace in the hole with Darius Gilcrist who has a unique approach that has paid off today.
“Darius got a couple good pins. He’s got a really funky style,” Coleman said. “I don’t think anyone down here knows what to expect from his. He does a lot of unorthodox things that are reaction based. He’s very strong and pulls it off.”
Closing out the team in Jacob Flores.
“He’s (Flores) down to 126 pounds. He’s finally at weight,” Coleman said. “He’s just slick and fast. He looks the part. He looks like a big, strong 126 pounder.”
The stakes are high. However, the team is confident and also having a fun time.
“We’re gonna eat a three-foot long burrito that was on some food network challenge,” Coleman said. “After the burrito, hopefully, we get a kid to finals.”
Top Performer: Jeremy Spencer, North Thurston
Scored 38 points in 73-43 win over Gig Harbor.
No. 5 Fife 60, Lindbergh 55: The Trojans looked like they were in trouble, trailing by 10 with less than five minutes to play.
But they rallied for the win begins a balanced scoring effort, including Cooper Schelbert scoring 14 points to set up a showdown with No. 3 Foss on Tuesday.
“One of their players fouled out and we really stepped it up on defense,” Fife assistant coach Terrance Troupe said. “We ended up pulling ahead at the end.”
Lindbergh outscored Fife (12-2; 7-1 2A SPSL Mountain) 21-8 in the third quarter before taking its double-digit lead. But Fife finished the game on a 20-8 run.
The win came despite a game-high 21 points from Lindbergh’s Jalen Green, whose brother is University of Washington guard Dom Green.
Schelbert was one of four Fife players in double figures, with Brian Mitchells scoring 13, Bryson Williams had 11 and Malachi Afework had 10. It plays Foss next, which beat Fife in double overtime their last meeting, at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Foss.
Steilacoom 70, Eatonville 60 (OT): It wasn’t easy but the Sentinels were able to outlast the Cruisers in overtime behind Torrey Cady’s game-high 33 points, including five 3-pointers.
Cady scored 25 of his 33 in the second half.
Steilacoom rallied in the second half and outscored Eatonville 10-0 in overtime for its third consecutive win.
That puts Steilacoom a half-game behind Highline for the 2A SPSL Sound’s No. 2 seed and two games behind Renton for the No. 1 seed. Steilacoom hosts Renton at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Kekoa Visperas led Eatonville with 17 points and Ryan Bailey and Tristan Schoepf each had 14.
Highline 47, Orting 43: The Pirates mounted a large comeback against the Cardinals to get the road win and stay a game and a game out of first place in the 2A SPSL Sound division.
Down 22-14 at the half, the Pirates came back to win thanks to a big third quarter and good defense holding off the Cardinals.
Leading the way for scoring was Gerald Hood, scoring 13 points. The Cardinals got plenty of offense from Isaac Jones, 19 points, but just couldn’t seal the deal.
No. 3 Lincoln 89, Mount Tahoma 36: Emmitt Linton III scored 17 points, Le’Zjon Bonds and Mykel Campbell each had 13 and Jakai Dillingham added 11 as the Abes cruised past their Tacoma rival to improve to improve to 14-0.
Since rallying from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat No. 10 Spanaway Lake, 68-62, on Jan. 3, Lincoln has won its past three games by an average of 40 points.
Lincoln led 24-3 after the first quarter.
No. 5 Wilson 66, Bethel 46: Emmitt Matthews Jr. scored 23 points and Daniel Santana added 19 as the Rams overcame a sluggish start.
Bethel led 12-7 after the first quarter and was up 24-22 at halftime.
“We came out pretty hot,” Bethel assistant coach Jack Murrey said.
But Wilson used a 22-12 third quarter and a 22-10 fourth to pull away for its seventh consecutive win.
“I think we got in foul trouble late which really hurt us,” Murrey said.
Santiaga Paz led Bethel with 16 points.
No. 6 North Thurston 73, Gig Harbor 43: Jeremy Spencer continued his scoring frenzy, pouring in a game-high 38 points on Friday in the Rams’ win over the Tides.
North Thurston (13-0) also go 15 points from Clayton Christian, a game after he scored a season-high 31 to stay atop the 3A South Sound Conference standings.
Top Performer: Julianna Walker, Annie Wright
Walker scored 50 points in 58-56 loss to Overlake.
Gig Harbor 47, North Thurston 43: Maddie Willett made history for the Tides as she scored her 1,000th career point.
Finishing the night with 19, Willett has already broken the all-time scoring record previously set at 950 points. And with another potent offensive weapon in Brynna Maxwell on the other side, she will continue to get scoring opportunities.
“I've had her all four years, it's a huge accomplishment,” Gig Harbor coach Megan Murray said. “Willett and Maxwell are our biggest assets … it's a nice combo.”
Maxwell finished with 20 points. She was going to need all of them because the Rams were a tough defensive team as they kept with the Tides through the game.
“We stayed in rhythm and what we needed to do,” Murray said. “Willett has done a good job rebounding and playing defense.”
The win keeps the Tides in first place atop the 3A SSC conference, a game ahead of Timberline, Peninsula and Shelton, as the gauntlet of playing six of their final seven games on the road begins against Garfield at 2 p.m. Saturday at Wilson High School.
No. 6 Lincoln 72, Mount Tahoma 16: Sharayah Johnson scored 19 points and Joclyen Wyatt added 10 as the Abes cruised to their fifth consecutive win.
Lincoln’s lone loss was on Dec. 19 against 4A Davis of Yakima.
It took a 30-2 lead by the end of the first quarter and never looked back, leading 46-4 at halftime.
Jackie Lewis led Mount Tahoma with six points.
Ocosta 57, Northwest Christian 9: The Wildcats blew out the Navigators who struggled to score and keep the game from getting out of hand.
“We’re not a very good ball-handling team,” Northwest Christian coach Ron Collins said. “We didn’t take enough shots to win the game.”
That showed as the first quarter saw the Navigators only getting one point followed by three points in the second.
“They didn’t miss a lot of shots, they had a very high scoring percentage,” Collins said.
The Wildcats got 15 in the first quarter and 17 in the second with Kjirstin Hopfer leading the way getting 15 of those points.
It was also an intense pressure that helped push back the offense the Navigators could muster.
“The pressure always upsets everybody,” Collins said. “We’re having turnovers hand over fist.”
That makes it clear that as a team the Navigators need to work on keeping the game under control and not cave under pressure.
“We hope to get better ball-handling in the future,” Collins said.
Overlake 58, Annie Wright 56: The Gators have a golden player in Julianna Walker.
Despite taking the two-point loss to the Owls, Walker single-handedly kept Annie Wright in the game by scoring 50 points on her own – her second 50-point game of the season.
“I don’t know a better player,” said assistant coach Dante Jackson. “It was a back and forth battle and we had a chance at the end, but we got pushed out of bounds and the call went against us.”
The Gators got their shot off before the buzzer, but it missed handing them the loss.
To top of her night, she grabbed eight steals and five rebounds.
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