Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Braves Sports, Dec. 21, 2011

Photo by Melissa Reynolds

La Conner fells Loggers with tree-mendous effort
By Bill Reynolds
La Conner kept its perfect season intact with a convincing 68-37 NW 1A/2B boys’ hoop victory Friday over the Darrington Loggers.
But the Braves aren’t out of the woods yet, according to La Conner head coach Scott Novak.
La Conner,  4-0 in league and 6-0 overall, enters perhaps its toughest stretch of the regular season starting tonight, Dec. 21, when the Braves face 3A Sedro-Woolley and then travel for the holidays to meet Adna and Toutle Lake.
“These next three games,” Novak said Sunday, “will be good benchmark games for our team to see where we really stack up.”
Against Darrington, La Conner managed to stack the Loggers like cordwood.
The Braves bolted to an early 25-6 lead and never looked back.
Landy James and Jonah Cook led 10 La Conner players in the scoring column, netting 17 and 13 points, respectively.
James buried two of four outside trey attempts, while Cook dominated play in the paint, converting six of 11 shots from the floor.
Backcourt starters Mike Wilbur and Spencer Novak orchestrated the rout with crisp passing and keen decision making.
Wilbur paced the victors with five assists, while Novak was adept feeding Cook and Tyler Howlett in the post.
“They did a great job,” coach Novak said afterward, “getting the ball inside for easy looks.”
Howlett was a prime beneficiary, meshing 10 points on five-of-nine shooting, while also grabbing five boards.
Novak (6), Skylar Krueger (5), Cameron Sherman (5), Wil James (4), Jamall James (3), Jared Fohn (3), and Wilbur (2) rounded out a balanced LaConner attack.
Fohn joined Landy James in exending Darrington’s defense by scoring from beyond the arc, draining a deep three-pointer.
For Darrington, on the other hand, it was pretty much a one-man show.
Tim Fenstermaker accounted for more than half the Loggers’ offense. He finished with a game-high 19 points, including a perimeter trey.
That, as things turned out, proved to be apropos.
For it was clear – on this night, at least – that Darrington had only an outside shot at besting La Conner.

 Photo by Amylynn Richards

Photo by Amylynn Richards
8th Grade Basketball team

Photo by Melissa Reynolds

Lady Braves suffer “pane-ful” loss
By Bill Reynolds
It was a glass act that shattered the La Conner High girls’ hoop team’s hopes Friday at Darrington.
The hosts used a huge 17-3 edge in offensive rebounds to post a piercing 40-38 NW 1A/2B win in a pairing of longtime league rivals on the storied Darrington hardwood.
Darrington’s repeated ability to snare caroms off the old gym’s half-moon glass backboards was a decisive factor in the contest, acknowledged La Conner head coach Scott Novak.
Nor did it help, he added, that La Conner committed a season high 20 turnovers and went cold at the charity stripe – converting just five of 14 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter – when the game was literally on the line.
And yet, stressed Novak, all wasn’t lost on the Darrington trip.
“Despite everything,’ he said, “we kept battling back and still had a chance to win. We just couldn’t quite get over the hump.”
Katie McKnight gave the slow-starting Lady Braves a boost with a fine all-around floor game.
She finished with a team-high 10 points – bolstered by a six-of-nine effort at the foul stripe – to go along with two steals and five rebounds.
But La Conner could muster just 11 tallies in the first half, stymied at times by a pesky and scrappy Darrington defense inspired by its loud and supportive home crowd.
“We got caught up playing their type of game and at their tempo,” Novak conceded afterward, “rather than playing ours.”
La Conner went scoreless the first five minutes of the contest before Alyssa McCormick ended the drought with a jumper in traffic at the 2:58 mark of the opening frame.
The Lady Braves, who had trouble adjusting to Darrington’s smaller backboards, didn’t record their next field goal until less than three minutes remained before halftime.
Point guard Nikki Finley sparked La Conner’s attack after intermission with a perimeter trey midway through the third period, as the Lady Braves trailed by just four, 27-23, going into the final stanza.
Darrington, however, was able to stave off a couple fourth quarter La Conner runs.
“This is a game,” said Novak, “that our team can hopefully learn from.”
La Conner, which fell to 3-1 in league and 4-2 overall, returned to the practice floor Saturday with positive results.
“We had a great workout the morning after the game,” Novak said Sunday, “and the girls seemed more focused and ready to go than they have been all season.”
Following Monday’s late action, La Conner is slated to host Adna Dec. 27 at 4:30 p.m. in a key non-league Holiday Break encounter.

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