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Friday Harbor doomed by fouls; Wolverine boys drop one to Pioneers 53-46
Foul trouble in the second half proved the Wolverines’ undoing as Nooksack Valley took care of business at the free-throw line and slipped out of Turnbull Gym Saturday with a 53-46 victory.
In the first half, the two Division 1A regional rivals played to a 24-24 tie. The Pioneers, which knocked down 20-of-24 free-throw attempts for the game, 83 percent, grabbed a 35-34 lead at the end of the third period with a 5-0 run. They added to the lead while tallying 13 of their 18 points in the final period at the free-throw line.
The Wolverines twice narrowed the deficit down to a single point in the final eight minutes, but were unable to snatch back the lead. Senior Jordan Nash led all scorers with 17 points, including a perfect 7-of-7 at the free-throw line. Seniors Ryan Aylward and Austin Scheffer each added eight.
Nooksack Valley senior Markus McLeod led three Pioneers in double digits with 12 points. Junior Nick Westergreen had 11 and junior Anthony Reese tossed in 10.
Friday Harbor finished the game shooting 83 percent from the foul line as well. But the Wolverines had 12 fewer free-throw attempts than the visiting Pioneers. With the win, Nooksack Valley improved to 6-1. Friday Harbor evened its overall record at 3-3 with the loss at home.
Friday Harbor 41
Clinging to two-point lead, the Wolverines spoiled an attempt by Coupeville at a game-winning bucket or a chance to send a see-saw battle between 1A regional rivals into overtime with 23 seconds of solid defense at home Friday in Turnbull Gym.
With 41 seconds left in regulation, senior Jordan Nash put the Wolverines up 40-36 by burying a pair of free throws, which proved to be the game-wining buckets. But Coupeville senior Cody Peters, who paced the Wolves with 13 points, kept the Friday Harbor faithful on their feet and the outcome in doubt by hitting a 3-point shot with 30 seconds left on the clock.
Friday Harbor senior Ryan Aylward, usually automatic at the free-throw line, left the door open for the Wolves by hitting only 1-of-2 free throws with 23 ticks left on the clock. The Wolverines escaped with a narrow 41-39 victory when Peters’ jumper from the baseline with 5 seconds remaining rolled on the rim and fell to the floor as time expired.
“You try not to let the pressure get to you with the game on the line,” Aylward said. “But you do a little bit. I felt confident about the second one after missing the first.”
With the win, the Wolverines improved to 3-2 and avenged a frustrating loss earlier in the week to Division 2A Mount Baker High.
Junior Parker Lawson, who scored a game-high 16 points, said that the team got an “earful” from Head Coach Rod Turnbull about its lack of effort on the boards and defensive end following the loss to the Mountaineers.
“Coach got on us about not rebounding against Mount Baker,” Lawson said. “So we took that to heart.”
Nash tallied nine points and Aylward, who was 4-of-5 from the free-throw line, added six, and senior Austin Scheffer had four.
Next: The Wolverines travel Friday to Orcas; tipoff is 4:30 p.m. The team travels to Meridian Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. showdown.