Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Braves Sports, Feb. 8, 2012

Photo by Melissa Reynolds
Braves drown Friday Harbor; tune up for playoffs
By Bill Reynolds
The La Conner Braves have spent much of the season in the fast lane.
But this past Friday they were able to slip into cruise control with a convincing 65-44 league win at home over a solid Friday Harbor club.
The win was a tune-up of sorts for the 19-1 Braves, scheduled to host a first round District playoff contest scheduled this Saturday at 7:30 p.m., after having posted a perfect 14-0 league mark.
With the loss, Friday Harbor, 15-5 overall, saw its league slate fall to 11-3.
Landy James led a balanced La Conner attack that for the most part hit on all cylinders, scoring 23 points while also dishing off three assists.
James was one of four Braves’ players to hit at least one perimeter trey, but the La Conner frontliner did most of his damage in the paint.
James was nine-of-12 inside the three-point arc, helping pick up the slack with Braves' post Tyler Howlett sidelined with an ankle injury.
La Conner guards Spencer Novak and Mike Wilbur also finished in double digits for the victors.
Novak and Wilbur each matched James with three assists as the Braves did a nice job making the extra pass and finding open shooters.
And, like James, Novak and Wilbur helped stretch the Friday Harbor defense with timely treys.
Swingman Bobby Poulton did his part, as well. He scored six points on two long three-pointers, and turned in a superb floor game.
Sean Hulbert and Wil James likewise were instrumental in La Conner overcoming the absence inside of Howlett.
Hulbert netted six points, while hitting half his shots, and grabbed a pair of rebounds. Wil James, the former wrestler, muscled inside for a bucket and a couple boards.
Three-point specialist Jared Fohn took on a new role and slipped inside for three rebounds as the Braves pounded the glass after carrying a slim 15-12 lead into the second frame.
La Conner began putting Friday Harbor in the rear view mirror with an 18-9 second quarter run.
The Braves extended their lead to 53-31 by doubling up the visitors (20-10) in the decisive third period, then coasted to the finish.
La Conner is now poised to gear up for what Braves' fans hope will be an extended playoff drive.
The Braves, whose only loss this year was on the road to State-ranked Adna, will likely open District play opposite Evergreen Lutheran, the projected fourth seed out of the Sea-Tac loop.
Saturday's outcome will determine La Conner's foe and game site in next week's second round of District action.

Photo by Melissa Reynolds
Lady Braves in playoff hunt despite shooting woes
By Bill Reynolds
La Conner High suffered through a rare cold shooting spell Friday, but the Lady Braves still have their sights set on making a deep playoff run.
La Conner hopes to be on target this Saturday at 6 p.m. when it hosts the SeaTac League's No. 3 seed – probably Cross Point Academy or Seattle Lutheran – in the Braves' District tourney opener.
La Conner’s girls had an unlikely off-night from the floor Friday when they fell 34-30 to league rival Friday Harbor.
La Conner shot just 10 of 36 from the field and was only one of eight from behind the three-point arc in the Friday Harbor loss.
The Braves managed just one point in the third quarter of a game marked by physical play and questionable calls.
With the win, the Wolverines salvaged a split in their season series with La Conner, as each won on the other's court.
Both teams are 14-6 overall, with La Conner dropping to 11-3 in league play. Friday Harbor improved its league mark to 12-2.
The defeat spoiled a tremendous effort by La Conner senior Priscilla Ponce-Venegas, who placed her team with 12 points and eight rebounds.
She also managed to draw fouls in the paint, converting six of eight free throw opportunities.
Anna Cook, recently returned from a midseason injury, added five points to the Braves' cause and showed nice mobility in the lane.
Katie McKnight (4), Kelley McClung (4), Nikki Finley (3), and Emily Anderson (2) also scored for La Conner.
Finley hit the Braves' lone perimeter trey.
McKnight was perfect from the charity stripe, hitting both her attempts. McClung, meanwhile, led the Braves with two steals.
Anderson added a pair of rebounds for La Conner, whose 12-7 rally in the final period fell just short.
The Braves led 17-16 at the break and made Friday Harbor misfire repeatedly in the first half.
The contest turned in the third frame, however, when the visitors went on a 10-1 tear.
La Conner head coach Scott Novak could take solace in the fact his team saved its best for last – scoring a dozen points in the fourth quarter – which should bode well for Saturday. 

Photo by Karla Reynolds
La Conner wrestlers grappling with success
By Bill Reynolds
For years, Concrete was literally in a league of its own when it came to area small school wrestling programs.
But now the Lions have company.
The La Conner Braves placed second to Concrete at last week's 2B League Tournament, and have advanced all their wrestlers to upcoming Regional trials at Chief Leschi.
Three La Conner grapplers placed first in their respective weight classes at the league finals, with Nathan Parker and William Zeimantz finishing one-two in the 285s and Jimmy Garcia and Kevin Aske doing the same at 138 pounds.
Dahlton Zavala, 160,  also earned top league honors for the Braves, whose head coach, Barry Harper, was elated at his team's results.
"I thought we wrestled very well," Harper said afterward. "We advanced all our wrestlers through to the Regional tournament, which I'm very pleased about."
Ben Harper, 132,  and Cameron Wischhusen, at 182, were strong runners-up in their weight divisions, while Todd Hoagland, 170, placed third and Robert Duckworth, 182, captured fourth slot at the league meet.
As well as La Conner fared, Harper says there remains room for improvement.
"There were a few matches that got away from us that I think we should have won," he said. "We just made little mistakes that cost us those matches."
Which makes workouts this week pretty much a no-holds-barred affair.
Harper believes with the proper approach and focus his charges can make great strides in the days ahead.
"If we want to move on to the State tournament," he says, "we're going to have to wrestle our best and have a good week of practice.
"I feel good about our team," he stresses. "I think we'll go down there and have a good tournament. We'll work on a few things this week, correct those little mistakes that cost us at league, and hopefully we can get most everyone through to State."
The top three wrestlers in each Regional weight class move on to State.
In a related note: La Conner High's Amber Drye placed second last week at Squalicum, earning a berth to the girls' Regionals this Saturday in Bellingham. She and girls’ wrestling teammate Frances Zeimantz competed in the 155s, with Zeimantz narrowly missing a spot at Bellingham despite splitting four matches. 

... and an up and coming Braves grappler

Photo by Adrian Sharpe
Tiny wrestler with a big medal
By Adrian Sharpe
Five-year-old Quentin Cobbs took home a second place medal in a state-wide wrestling tournament held Saturday Jan. 28.
The Washington State Folkstyle Championships held in Spokane included kids of all ages who are residents of Washington State. More than 1,000 brave boys and girls entered the ring to test their skills. 
Cobbs has been wrestling since he was just three years old, though until last year he primarily stuck to pinning his sister, said his mother Mandy Buck.
As the youngest traveling wrestler on “Team Scorpion,” Cobbs and his family make the gambit of wrestling events throughout the State.
“We go to tournaments every weekend,” said Buck.
Wrestling in the peewee division, Cobbs’ opponents were all older than him, said his mom. Each kid was at least a year his senior. But age proved not to be an advantage for most of his challengers.
“He only lost three times this year,” said his mom.
Cobbs is a student at the Swinomish pre-school.

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