Mules score big, clinching second place in league
They will travel to Onalaska today for final season game
February 1, 2024
The Wahkiakum Mules boys basketball team solidified their second place standing in the Central 2B League with three wins this week. They moved up to eighth place in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association's RPI ranking for 2B teams, and have one more game left in the regular season to play before the district tournament begins for them next Wednesday.
The Mules proved to be the comeback kids after a rough start in Adna last Wednesday. Adna came out hot, hitting six three pointers in the first eight minutes, and the Mules struggled to respond. Down by 14 at the end of one, Wahkiakum would go on to outscore the Pirates in the next three quarters to eventually win, 70-65.
"The Adna game was absolutely huge for us," Coach Rob Garrett said. "Early on our defense really struggled and our offense wasn't a whole lot better. After the guys settled down and started playing one possession at a time, we got into our groove a little and cut an early 16 point lead down to six by half time. Unfortunately, the second half started out similar to the first and Adna was quickly up by 14. We knew we had to lock in on defense and play together on offense, and that is exactly what the guys did. Offensively, Kyler [Sause] carried us for most of the night with Jacob Johnson hitting a timely three and Parker Leitz going on a great little offensive stretch of his own. We battled through foul trouble most of the night and came out with a five point victory. It was a great experience and a huge win to put us in position to take the Central two seed moving into district."
Kyler Sause scored 29 points and pulled down eight boards. Parker Leitz added 14 points. Zakk Carlson had 12 points and four assists. Jacob Johnson had nine points, seven assists, and six rebounds. Jayden Stoddard scored three points. Grant Wilson had two points, and Nathan Garrett finished the game with one point. Cooper Carlson had four assists.
Mules 11 21 18 20 70
Adna 25 13 15 12 65
Two days later, the Mules easily beat Winlock 82-32 in front of a home crowd.
"Winlock was a game we knew we had the upper hand," Garrett said. "We talked about the fact that championship teams don't take nights off, they find ways to get better regardless of the competition. After a slightly slow offensive start, the guys did just that. It was nice to see everyone get in on the action and score."
Z. Carlson scored 24 points to lead the Mules and had five assists. Sause added 19 points and nine rebounds. Leitz had 17 points, five rebounds, five steals, and five assists. Johnson had six points and four assists. C. Carlson had six points. Gage Robinson had three points and six rebounds. Stoddard scored three points. Garrett scored two points and pulled down six boards.
Wilson scored two points and had five rebounds.
Winlock 4 7 15 6 32
Mules 12 25 19 26 82
The following Tuesday in the final home game of the season, the Mules celebrated their seniors and beat Rainier, 63-44.
"Tonight was solid," Garrett said. "One of our best defensive showings in my opinion. Our rotations were great most of the night with the exception of a few possessions here or there."
Three things were key to the win, according to Garrett.
"One, we did a better job of staying in front of our man tonight, two, the timing of our help was really good and we switched well when needed, and three, and this was huge, Zakk [Carlson] went and crushed the defensive glass, attacking the boards up at the rim bringing in 14 defensive rebounds," he said.
"Offensively we did a great job getting into our sets tonight," Garrett continued. "Our timing was just a little off on a few things and at times our shots weren't falling like they normally are. With that said, I thought 63 was pretty darn good. It's nice to know you can rely on your defense when you're not clicking on all cylinders offensively. Our sets are looking better and better and I feel like offensively we are right on the verge of really putting it all together."
"It was a great way to send the seniors out on their last home game," Garrett said. "All five of those guys have come so far this season and I absolutely love coaching them."
This year's seniors are Zakk Carlson, Kyler Sause, Jacob Johnson, Grant Wilson, and Nathan Garrett.
Z. Carlson scored 18 points and had 15 rebounds and four assists. Sause had 15 points, five rebounds and five assists. Johnson added 10 points and four assists. Leitz scored seven points.
Wilson had five points and four assists. Robinson and Stoddard chipped in three points apiece.
C. Carlson finished the game with two.
Rainier 12 9 11 12 44
Mules 19 11 10 23 63
The Mules travel to Onalaska on Thursday (today) for their final game of the regular season.
The double elimination District 4 tournament will send five teams to regionals, District play begins for Wahkiakum on February 7 at 5:30 p.m. at WF West High School in Chehalis when the Mules are expected to play the winner of a Feb. 3 matchup between the sixth ranked Central 2B team and the third ranked Pacific 2B team.