Tritons top Trojans in heavyweight NWAC hoops battle
LYNNWOOD — It took just 11 seconds for the heavyweight showdown between the Edmonds College and Everett Community College men’s basketball teams to turn in a dime.
Edmonds had been outplayed in the first half and was perhaps lucky to go into half-time just seven down. But on first possession of the first half, Edmond’s Squeeky Johnson lost a 3-pointer and was fouled, converting a four-point game.
This provided the spark for a 14-point run that put Edmonds in control of the game, and the Tritons defeated the Trojans 91-84 in a Northwest Athletic Conference North Region knock-down dragout in front of an enthusiastic crowd on Wednesday night Edmond’s Seaview High School.
Wednesday’s game, played between two teams on a roll — Edmonds had won 12 straight games and was ranked No. 4 in the NWAC while Everett had won his previous nine and was ranked No. 3 — was played at a frenetic pace and played at a high level and the officials swallowed their whistles as the teams were literally allowed to whistle.
But it was the Johnson-led 14-0 run to open the second half, lasting just 2:14, that proved the difference.
“This is playoff basketball,” said Johnson, a sophomore guard from Vancouver, Wash., who finished with 18 points, including five 3-pointers.
“We played great,” Johnson added. “We stuck together really well. The first half, seven minuses, we didn’t let that deter us. Coach (Kyle Gray) came in and spoke to us and we knew we had to play harder, especially on defence. We came out and did that and we could hit shots and make the easy plays on offense to take the lead and finish the game.
Chris Lee added 19 points for the Tritons (5-0 league, 15-2 overall), who stayed in first place in the North region. Elyon Zevenbergen added 12 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks while Tony Frolich-Fair had 12 points and eight boards as Edmonds shared the wealth on offense.
“We like to play at a good pace, at a good pace where we don’t hesitate and just want to go,” Gray said. “We run well when we do that, when we play to the rhythm and flow, and that’s what we did tonight.
“That was huge,” Gray added of the importance of the win. “Everett is phenomenal, they are a great team. We have to make sure we keep our home dish because we have to go back to them too. It was just a really important win because we were at home.”
Jadin Penigar poured in 24 to lead the Trojans (4-1, 17-3) and he almost single-handedly pulled Everett back late in the second half after the Tritons extended the lead to 13. Leon Sayers added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Trojans.
“We played hard but we started the second half quite slowly and that turned the game around for us – in a bad way,” said Penigar. “We weren’t locked in, we kind of stood up and got a little bit complacent. Playing on the home floor they had the advantage and it definitely showed tonight.
Despite being home, Edmonds was on the backfoot in the first half as Everett got hot from 3-point range and the Tritons trailed 48-41 in the second half. But Johnson’s four-point game began a stretch of five consecutive possessions in which the Tritons scored while also turning over the Trojans and forcing misses. Johnson’s steal and breakaway lay-up gave Edmonds a 52-48 lead and prompted Everett to time out, and his 3-pointer on the Tritons’ subsequent possession gave Edmonds a stunning 55-48 advantage.
“Defense,” Johnson said, was key to the run. “We just had to really focus on defense and get the rebound, then play our basketball on offense and just push it.”
Edmonds’ lead increased to 81-68 with less than seven minutes to go as Penigar went to work. Penigar scored 11 straight Everett points, including three 3s, to put the Trojans back within striking distance. Then, after a nice feed from Glacier Peak High School graduate Tucker Molina, Sayer’s lay-up made it a one-possession play at 87-84 with 1:19 remaining. Everett got the ball back and Sayers was fouled, but he missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Tritons grabbed the rebound. Lee made four straight free throws to end the game.
The teams will play their rematch on February 22 at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center on the Everett CC campus.
Edmonds 65, Everett 52
The Tritons, behind their size advantage and the game of Jada Walters, moved forward in the second quarter of the competition in the north region.
Walters finished with 16 points, and Edmonds (3-2 league, 11-4 agg) beat Everett 23-8 in the second quarter to counter a strong start for the Trojans. Then, as Everett drew within six in the third quarter, Walters converted a four-point play to extend the lead back to double figures. Keirra Slippern added 12 points for the Tritons.
Glacier Peak High School graduate Maddy Thoma led the Trojans with 22 points and seven boards (0-5, 3-12).