Eagles eke out victory over winless Spartans

December 18, 2012

By John Leggett

Ty Gibson (5), Issaquah High School sophomore guard, collides with Skyline junior guard Jonah Eastern, who goes to the floor as Nels Thorsrud (left) looks on during their Dec. 14 matchup. By Don Borin/Stop Action Photography

Thousands of prep basketball fans jammed into Issaquah High School’s gymnasium Dec. 14 to witness the annual pre-holiday KingCo 4A hoopfest between winless Skyline and the 4-1 hosting Eagles, who pulled out a 49-48 nail-biter in regulation.

Skyline, seeking its initial victory, appeared to be well on its way to doing just that as the Spartans held a 24-19 advantage at intermission, behind the shooting of Jonah Eastern, who wound up being the leading scorer with 20 points.

“I told our guys in the locker room at the break, that if they wanted to win this game, they were going to have to earn it. It was apparent from the way that the Spartans were playing, that Skyline wasn’t going to just hand over the triumph to us. That is what this rivalry is all about, though. These battles with Skyline are almost always barnburners,” Issaquah head coach Jason Griffith said. “Ty Gibson, Jake Henke and Cory Nevin, among others, all really stepped up tonight in the fourth quarter especially, doing a better job of executing our sets and attacking the basket.”

Gibson and Henke were the top point getters in the showdown, combining for 32 points.

With Skyline and Issaquah followers on the edge of their seats, the action on the hardwood became fast and furious in the last minute of the encounter. Outstanding 6-foot, 4-inch junior wing Nevin absorbed a tandem of obvious charging fouls from overzealous Spartans driving through the paint. With 45 seconds remaining in the affair, the inbounds pass went to the talented and multifaceted Nevin, who dribbled the ball coast-to-coast, flipping up a 10-foot finger roll for two as he launched himself through the fray.

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Skyline answered in kind, to keep it close, but on Issaquah’s next trip down the court, Eagle big man, 6-foot, 6-inch junior Henke, was fouled in the act of shooting. Henke made both clutch shots to put IHS out front, 49-45, with 15 seconds left to play.

The second shot Henke pumped in from the foul line was undoubtedly the most important point of the rendezvous, because it put the Eagles ahead by four points.

The Spartans worked the ball down the floor and, upon reaching midcourt, called time out with 10 seconds left, to make sure everyone was on the same page to sketch out a play. The inbound pass went to Skyline 6-foot, 8-inch junior Blake O’Brien, who calmly hit nothing but net with a jumper from the top of the key making it 49-48 in favor of Issaquah.

Issaquah carefully inbounded the ball and the recipient of the ball was immediately mugged to stop the clock. Neither of the ensuing foul-shot attempts dropped, but it was irrelevant as time expired.

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