Sluggish start dooms Eagles to 62-51 loss in championship game
February 21, 2012
By Christina Lords
It wasn’t where Nick Price wanted to be.
After the Issaquah High School Eagles were only able to string together 16 points in the first half of the KingCo Conference 4A boys championship game Feb. 17 against Garfield, he was saddled with early foul trouble and was forced to the sidelines for the majority of the third quarter.
Issaquah rallied for an 18-9 run to bring the game within 10 points in the third, but the Eagles lost the contest 62-51 at Juanita High School.
“It’s always a factor when your best player gets into foul trouble, but at the same time the other kids and the younger guys stepped up,” Issaquah coach Jason Griffith said. “That’s when we went on a run. When Nick came back in, he played more like Nick.”
He credited the Bulldogs’ strength as the best offensive rebounding team in the league — a major factor as Garfield took the lead by as many as 21 points in the first half.
“We had a hard time getting into the rhythm,” he said. “We were forcing shots and we didn’t really play to our strengths, which is getting to the rim, making the extra pass and playing good defense.”
Griffith said he knew his team had the talent and dedication to end up in the championship game early on in the season.
“I knew it was our potential,” he said. “We competed all season long. We played every team tough all year long. We were just starting to get over the hump down the stretch here, and if we would have put together a little bit different first half, I think we would have made it, or at least made it a closer game.”
Despite the early foul trouble, Price, Issaquah’s top scorer, contributed a team-high 14 points and four rebounds in the contest. He’s averaging 20.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game on the season.
Issaquah freshman Ty Gibson and junior Ryan Sexton contributed 12 and 11 points respectively.
Garfield’s Tucker Haymond had a game-high 18 points for the Bulldogs.
Issaquah will play in a Class 4A regional at 6 p.m. Feb. 24 at Juanita.
“Next Friday’s a big game,” Griffith said said. “If we win, we go to the Tacoma Dome.”
The winner of the game advances to the Tacoma Dome, site of the finals for the Class 4A state tournament. It has been a while since the Eagles played at the Tacoma Dome. Issaquah last visited the Tacoma Dome in 2005 and failed to place in the Class 3A State Tournament. In 2003 the Eagles finished second to Rainier Beach in the Class 3A State Tournament. Issaquah also played in the Class 3A State Tournament in 2002.
“We’re definitely going to go out and do our best to get a win,” Griffith said.
Christina Lords: 392-6434, ext. 239 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.