Mules now ranked ninth in state after wins against Toledo, Toutle Lake
January 25, 2024
Last week was a thrilling week for Wahkiakum Mules boys basketball and their fans, as the team won two games back to back, first beating Toledo in overtime on Thursday, and then defeating a fifth ranked Toutle Lake the following night. While the wins took an effort from every Mule, it was senior Kyler Sause's week to shine. He scored 26 points both nights, hitting the game winning three in overtime to beat Toledo by one with just seconds left on the clock on Thursday. On Friday in Toutle Lake he drilled another three from the opponent's free throw line, three quarters the length of the court, to tie up that game at 54 in the third quarter.
Toutle Lake's loss dropped them into seventh place and then back up into sixth place in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association's RPI ranking of 2B teams over the weekend, while the Mules broke into the top ten, moving up from 12th place to ninth.
In the 53-52 overtime win against Toledo on Thursday, Sause scored 26 points, Zakk Carlson had nine points, and Jacob Johnson had five. Nathan Garrett added four points. Jayden Stoddard and Grant Wilson had three points apiece. Cooper Carlson scored two and Parker Leitz had one.
The Mules shot 18 percent from three point range, hitting six of their 32 attempts, 45 percent from two point range, and 50 percent from the free throw line.
"It was definitely not our best shooting night," Coach Rob Garrett said. "With that being said, our defense and our rebounding kept us alive."
Garrett described the final minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime.
"Zakk [Carlson] got a steal with under a minute to go that allowed us to cut their lead to one," he said. "After Kyler [Sause] secured the board on the defensive end with 20 seconds to go, Grant [Wilson] got an offensive board and got fouled on the put back."
Wilson would make one of two from the line to tie the game in the fourth. Sause was able to nab the offensive board, but his attempt to score failed, and the game went into overtime.
"It would have been great to hit the game winner there, but what ensued ended up being an even cooler memory," Garrett said.
Toledo scored the first seven points during overtime, but the Mules were able to get three consecutive stops, cutting Toledo's lead to two, Garrett said. With 25 seconds left, the Mules gave up another basket, and were down by four again. With 10 seconds on the clock Nathan Garrett tipped in an offensive board to cut the lead to two.
The other team inbounded, overthrowing downcourt for a turnover. That's when the Mule coach called for a time-out to talk strategy.
Whatever he said, it worked; Jacob [Johnson] found Sause open and, cutting to the corner and with about four seconds on the clock, Sause "locks in on his spot to secure the overtime win with the three swishing through the net!"
Mules 13 11 8 10 53
Toledo 12 10 11 9 52
The following night the Mules took it to the fifth ranked Toutle Lake Ducks, and beat them in regulation time, 75-70.
"After coming off a night where many teams would have thrown in the towel," Garrett said, "we found a way to grind out a win. The first half was a great back and forth battle and even though our defense was working their tails off, Toutle was able to get a 13 point lead by the middle of the third. Like a true group of Mules, our stubbornness kicked in. We stacked stops, hit threes, crashed the glass and took it hard to the rim to get the Ducks in foul trouble. After cutting the lead to three, Kyler secured the board with about four seconds left in the third."
That's when Sause turned around, and with one quick dribble, "shot the ball with all his might," three quarters of the length of the court right into the basket.
"Kyler struck gold once again, making a truly once in a lifetime shot to tie it up," Garrett said.
The Ducks would pull ahead by seven again, early in the fourth.
"We clawed our way back in again," Garrett said. "Zakk was a beast inside attacking the rim and all the Ducks could do was foul him to slow him down."
When multiple Ducks moved in to defend him, Carlson sent the ball back outside to Kyler for another three.
"After one of [the] Ducks' better players fouled out, the Mules had all the confidence in the world and secured the game with team defense and calmness on offense," Garrett said.
Z. Carlson led scoring with 27 points and eight rebounds, and Sause put up 26 points for the second night in a row. He also had eight rebounds. Johnson had 10 points. Stoddard added seven. Garrett had two points. Leitz, C. Carlson, and Wilson contributed one point apiece.
Mules 14 13 27 21 75
Toutle Lake 19 9 26 16 70
The Mules are 7-2 in league and 10-4 overall, currently putting them in third place in the Central 2B league behind Napavine and Adna.
They traveled to Adna on Wednesday, but a score was not available by press time.
The Mules host Winlock on Friday. Their final home game of the regular season will be next Tuesday, when Rainier comes to town, and next Thursday, they head to Onalaska to end the regular season.