Friday Harbor boys basketball shoots for gold | Sports preview

High off a chance at last year’s state tournament, the Friday Harbor boys basketball players are returning with both their eyes on the ball and the prize. The Wolverines have reached the state tournament three times in the past five years, and, in 2019, they are going for a fourth.

“We want to win our league title and put ourselves in a position to earn a state tournament appearance again,” said coach Rod Turnbull.

The Wolverines finished first in the boys Northwest 2B/1B League in the 2017-18 season, going 9-1 in league games and 15-8 overall. Their nine-game winning streak was the third-longest streak in their league, according to Friday Harbor Tiny Radio.

Ten out of the team’s total 16 players are rejoining for this season’s 21 games, with five seniors, six juniors, one sophomore and one freshman rounding off the varsity roster. Seniors Lucas Chevalier, Chase Wilson, Kyle Mapstead, Miles Williamson and Marshall Clark will face their last season on the high school courts.

The boys will challenge tough competitors, said Turnbull, like Darrington and Mount Vernon Christian, though the Wolverines defeated both last year.

This season, however, Turnbull expects rosters to change.

“I believe our league will have some different teams than the past couple of years that will be fighting for postseason and league titles,” he said.

Games kicked off on Nov. 24 with a shortened practice scramble called a jamboree at Mariner High School, then matches against Blaine on Nov. 27, where the Wolverines lost, 67-43, and on Nov. 30 against Toledo, where they lost, 58-39. The latter game was part of the Tip-Off Classic on San Juan. Four boys teams and four girls teams battled in the tournament, which has been held in Friday Harbor for the past five years.

In addition to playing local teams, in January, the boys will host a Vancouver, Canada team to, as Turnbull said, have “a chance to play someone different.”

The team is focusing on consistency and awareness, he added, as well as applying last year’s lessons to this season’s games.

“We learned last year that we could beat anyone, but we could also lose to anyone,” said Turnbull. “If we are not ready on each night, anyone can be our biggest competitor.”

The Wolverines took on Coupeville for an off-island game on Dec. 5, where they won, 60-38, and return for a home game against Nooksack Valley at 1:30 p.m., Dec. 8. Check the Journal for updates.