Mules continue to show grit and growth

Plus one senior notches up a significant milestone

 

January 18, 2024

Todd Wilson

Jacob Johnson slipped past a Napavine defender in the Mules near upset of the current top 2B team in the state.

It was a big week for the Wahkiakum Mule boys basketball team, who very nearly upset the leading 2B team in state last Wednesday, and for senior cager Zakk Carlson, who scored his 1000th career point the following night.

The Mules' week began as host of the Napavine Tigers, who not only lead the Central 2B league with an undefeated record, but are ranked number one among 2B teams in Washington State. Wahkiakum has currently slipped into fourth place in the league with a 5-2 league record and holds 16th place in the state ranking system.

On Wednesday, rankings and records proved to be poor tools for prognostication. The Mules lost, but by a very thin margin, 63-58.

"Napavine was a huge game for us," Coach Rob Garrett said. "The boys really showed how far they have come both mentally and physically so far this year. Napavine is a great team and to be down 13 early in the game and come all the way back and be battling all the way to the last second is a great sign of where this team can go if they continue to put their attitude and effort in the right place each day. I thought Grant [Wilson] and Nathan [Garrett] did a phenomenal job on [Napavine's James Grose] and our other four guys on the court really stepped up to make a great defensive team. We definitely hit some big shots but it was our defense and rebounding that allowed us to have a chance all the way to the last play. It was nice to see Jacob [Johnson] come out and play with a ton of offensive confidence. I thought he really gave us an offensive spark we have missing at times. Parker [Leitz] also hit four huge threes in the first half to get us back in the game. Zakk [Carlson] led the team in assists and Kyler [Sause] attacked the boards. All around great game. I'm very proud of these guys."

Z. Carlson led the Mules with 18 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Johnson added 14 points and four assists. Leitz had 12 points and four steals. Sause scored seven points, had nine rebounds, and a block. Wilson and Jayden Stoddard contributed three points apiece. Cooper Carlson finished the game with one.

James Grose scored 28 points for Napavine.

Napavine 21 14 11 17 63

Mules 16 15 14 13 58

The following day, the Mules traveled to Kalama, where they beat the Chinooks 68-45.

"Kalama was a little ugly in the first half but we turned it around in the second half," Coach Garrett said. "I thought we turned up the defensive intensity which led to us playing with more energy and efficiency on the other half. Kyler shot the ball well in the first half, having a great night on his birthday and Zakk broke the 1,000 point barrier with a three in the third quarter. It was a good league win on the road."

Z. Carlson scored 21 points. Sause had 13 points. Johnson added 12. Leitz had 11. Stoddard had nine. Garrett finished with two. Wilson pulled down eight boards. Cooper Carlson had six rebounds and five assists.

Mules 14 19 21 14 68

Kalama 15 12 8 10 45

A non-conference game against Stevenson on Monday was canceled because of winter weather. The Mules hosted Toledo on Wednesday, but a score was not available by press time.

They travel to Toutle Lake on Friday and Adna next Thursday.

 

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