Mules learn to transition, with strong results

 

December 21, 2023

Todd Wilson

Parker Leitz gets an easy two in the Mules boys 81-46 win against Winlock on Thursday.

The Wahkiakum Mules boys basketball team is in transition, and they're winning.

Last Thursday, the Mules flipped the Cardinals 81-46 in Winlock.

"We started shooting lights out," Coach Rob Garrett said. "It started from our defense. We got tons of stops. We're starting to learn how to play transition basketball."

Senior Zakk Carlson had a stellar night on offense with 36 points, scoring 34 in three quarters, while picking up the extra two in the one minute he played in the fourth. He was five for eight from the three point line, and pulled down eight rebounds. His teammate, Jayden Stoddard showed his A-game as well, with 17 points, going five for 11 from behind the arc.

"He can light it up," Coach Rob Garrett said of Stoddard. "It was the first time this year he's gone out and done that. It was really good to see him have one of those nights."

"I thought we played with really good energy," Garrett added. "We started celebrating one another and I think that is when things go really well, when everybody is having fun, not focusing on themselves, but on the team as a whole."

Along with scoring from Z. Carlson and Stoddard, Kyler Sause had 13 points, seven assists, and nine rebounds. Parker Leitz added eight points, five rebounds, five steals, and five assists.

Cooper Carlson scored four points and Jacob Johnson finished the game with three points and six assists.

Mules 15 15 32 19 81

Winlock 8 14 14 10 46

On Tuesday in Rainier, the Mules surprised the Mountaineers, and maybe even themselves.

Behind by as much as 10 points in the third quarter, they would pull ahead in the final minutes to win the game 63-57.

"We talked to them about how it's not going to happen in one possession." Garrett said. "You aren't going to win the game by dunking it or making one three. You are going to win by getting consecutive defensive stops. All five guys got a talk. We have to help each other. We have to limit them to one shot, and everybody has to rebound."

"Late in the fourth quarter, we did exactly that," he said. "One of our fans told me we went on a 16-0 run and if it wasn't that, it was darn close to it. The runs stemmed from our defense, the best defense I thought we've played this season."

"It was a lot of fun to watch, and when you are getting stop after stop after stop, eventually our offense is going to come," Garrett added. "Like I said, we have a ton of good shooters."

The momentum also shifted when sophomore Parker Leitz hit a three pointer to tie the game.

He missed on the next trip down the court, but followed that with a steal and a lay up to pull the Mules ahead.

"We had been on a dry spell for quite a while, and once he hit that three the guys were like, here we go, we can do it," Garrett said. "It was a pretty clutch performance by him, which is cool to see as a sophomore."

Garrett had praise for Sause, who led the Mules with 21 points and shot 58 percent from the field.

"He's very efficient, very smooth with his shot, which has helped us out," the coach said.

"The other guy who stood out tonight was Nathan Garrett," Coach Garrett said. "He had a great game defensively. He took two charges, one of which was at a crucial point in the game. He took a charge and a basket away from them. That was a huge play."

"We have different guys who have different roles," Garrett said. "Not everybody gets to be the guy who shoots the ball all the time. He's really starting to embrace that role and find his niche. I feel like him and Grant [Wilson] do a good job of that for us. Tonight was a big celebration night for him in one of those uncelebrated roles."

Along with the contribution from Sause, Leitz scored 19 points, Z. Carlson added 14 points, Garrett had five, and Johnson scored four points.

Mules 17 15 7 24 63

Rainier 19 16 11 11 57

The Mules host Onalaska today (Thursday) and head to Mount Vernon Christian for a three day tournament over the Christmas break.

Their season will resume on January 4 on the road against Morton/White Pass.

 

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