By Amylynn Richards
Senior Brandon Drye took second place at the recent state wrestling competition. Drye has competed at state level each of his four years, bringing home fourth place metals and one second place. He was the first-ever Brave to earn a chance to compete at state.
“Brandon is a person who really cares about his teammates and coaches, his family and his community,” said Coach Mike Compton. “He’s a true champion in our hearts.”
Earning second at state is only one of Drye’s accomplishments this past week. On Tuesday, Feb. 15, Drye was named Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) 2B Statewide Athlete of the Week, in honor of his winning his second regional championship in three first-round pins: the first in 34 seconds, the second in 1:03, and the third in 1:48 seconds.
It was the second straight week that a Brave wrestler had won that honor; junior Cameron Wischhusen was selected Tuesday, Feb. 8.
“Brandon had a great career,” said Coach Compton. “To be in the finals of the state tournament is every wrestler's dream. There's a lot of disappointment in not winning the final match, but as time passes, we all come to realize that life is really about bigger things.”
Compton is already looking forward to the 2011-2012 season. “We have a group of wrestlers returning next year who have state tournament experience, and that will only help us to further our success next year. All in all, we've had a very good last three weeks, and our fans, parents, and community can once again be proud of these kids.”
Junior Nathan Parker was named the 1B/2B Academic State Champion for the 285 lb. weight class. Coach Mike Compton noted that Parker is only the second La Conner wrestler to earn this honor; Mike Konieczki earned the title back in 2006.
Other members of the wrestling team have also excelled academically and have earned recognition from the WIAA. Academic All State Honorable Mention Academic Awards went to: Ashley Norton in the 152 lb. class in the Girls' Division; Brandon Drye, 215 lb. class; Travis Silva, 215 lb. class; and Cameron Wischhusen in the 285 lb. division in the 1B/2B Boys' Division. In order to be eligible, a wrestler must be a junior or a senior, must be on the varsity team with a winning record, eligible to compete in the district tournament, and keep a grade point average above 3.0.
It was a tense week for the girls’ basketball team, thanks to last week’s loss in the first round to Tacoma Baptist, which meant that every game the girls played was a “loser-out” match. The girls made it safely through each game, finishing up the bi-district championship with a third-place win against Tacoma Baptist.
The first game was on Tuesday, Feb against Evergreen Lutheran at Mount Vernon Christian, with the Braves winning by 10 points, 46-36. Top scorers: Priscilla Ponce-Venegas, 12; Aubrey Stewart, 9; Nikki Finley, 8; and Katie McKnight 8. “We came out strong, played great defense and had balanced scoring,” said Coach Marla Quesnell. The Braves brought down nearly 40 rebounds: Nikki Finley had 8; Samie Miller, 10; Aubrey Stewart, 10; and Priscilla Ponce-Venegas 10.
The girls returned to Chief Leschi on Friday, Feb. 18 to take on league rival Mount Vernon Christian, which the Braves had faced twice during the regular season in January. The Hurricanes had beaten the Braves in their first matchup 42-37 and also the second 29-23; which made this victory all the sweeter.
“This was a huge victory for my girls after losing to Mount Vernon Christian both times in the regular season,” said Coach Quesnell. High scorers for the Braves were Priscilla Ponce-Venegas, 12 points and 8 rebounds; Samie Miller, 12 points; and Aubrey Stewart added 8 points.
The third game of the week was again at Chief Leschi, against Tacoma Baptist. The Crusaders had taken the Braves down 49-41 just the week before; this was another sweet victory for the Braves with a 26-25 win over the Crusaders. “We knew if we had a strong start, we could play with them,” said Coach Quesnell. The Braves were without their point guard, Kelly McClung, due to illness, but “the girls did a great job of handling their press,” Quesnell said. “We got an early lead.”
The Braves were up 18-9 at halftime but struggled to score in the second half. The Crusaders sunk a couple of three-pointers, and with three seconds to go, the game was tied 25-25. The opponents fouled Aubrey Steward, who handled the pressure of a make-or-break free-throw like a pro. She sunk that ball into the basket and won the game for the Braves.
High scorers for this game were Priscilla Ponce-Venegas with 10 points, Aubrey Stewart 7, and Samie Miller 6.
“All of these games were a testament to the scrappiness of the girls,” Coach Quesnell said. “They have confidence in close games. I am thrilled with their determination; that is something that you don't coach.
The girls play North Beach high Friday, Feb. 25 at Mount Vernon High school. The winner of this game will play either Darrington or Adna on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 1 p.m. at Mount Vernon.
On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the boys played in the first round of the bi-district championships at Chief Leschi. Other games in the championship were played at Mount Vernon Christian.
La Conner beat Chief Leschi 48-38. In this game, Landy James scored 16 points, Kyle McKnight 15, and DJ Carr 10.
On Saturday, Feb. 19, the Braves competed against Bear Creek. The Grizzlies won the championship 53-49. This game put the Braves in the number-two seed in the district going into the regional competition. Spencer Novak scored 14 points and Kyle McKnight scored 9. The Braves are currently 20-3 overall.
The boys will duke it out this weekend at regionals in Spokane against Napavine at 9:15 p.m. The winner of this game will begin state competition on Thursday, Mar. 3 at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena at 12:15 p.m.