Sporting blank stares and walking single file, the Skyline boys exited their home gym and headed to the locker room after Tuesday night’s 76-62 loss to Inglemoor — nobody spoke a word.
“It’s been a weird year, it’s been a really weird year,” said Spartan head coach J. Jay Davis.
For the fourth time this season, the Spartans took a lead into the fourth quarter, only to watch it evaporate.
“It’s been our nemesis quarter all year,” said Davis, whose team has been outscored 252-210 in 15 fourth quarters.
Skyline led Inglemoor 49-47 after the third quarter, but a defensive collapse and sudden absence of offense led the Spartans to another heart-breaking defeat. It marked the third loss in their last four games that came after having a third-quarter lead. In the fourth game, against No. 1 ranked Garfield, Skyline only trailed by one point after three quarters before losing by 13.
“A lot of things that go into that, guys get tired, injuries, foul trouble, the rotation gets shorter … you kind of get in a funk where you lose one game in the fourth quarter and it’s kind of hard to get out of that funk,” Davis said. “It’s just really tough.”
Tuesday’s contest had six ties and 13 lead changes. The Spartans took their final advantage with 44 seconds left in the third on a layup from Dillon Saffle. The tides turned, however, only 19 seconds into the fourth when the Viking’s Adam McElwee drilled a deep three-pointer for a one-point lead. Inglemoor continued to capitalize on Skyline’s zone defense, going on a 12-2 run. The Vikings hit six of nine shots and were 10-for-10 from the free-throw line in the final frame, outscoring the Spartans 29-13. Skyline was only 4-for-12 (33 percent) in the fourth after hitting 45 percent of its shots through the first three quarters.
Senior Nick Crossan and junior Cory Hutsen played large roles in the Spartan’s early success. Crossan, who missed the previous four games with a high ankle sprain, tied a season-high with 22 points. Hutsen also tied a season-high with 20 points.
“You kind of expect that out of them,” Davis said.
There are eight KingCo 4A playoff spots open this season. Currently Skyline (3-8, 5-10) sits in 10th place of 12 teams. The Spartans are only a half game behind Newport and a full game behind Woodinville for the last playoff berth.
“We’ve still got a chance,” Davis said. “It’s not like we have three wins and everybody else has eight. There’s a couple of other teams with three and there’s a couple of others with four, so the season is long from being over.”
Skyline has five games remaining, starting with a home game against Plateau rival Eastlake at 8 p.m., today.
Davis noted his team will have to dig deep to make a run at the postseason, but if they can find what they had at the start of the year, the sky is the limit.
“Anytime you can make a run at the playoffs, anything can happen,” he said.
Issaquah tops Woodinville
Freshman guard Nick Price led Issaquah with 13 points in a 51-39 win over Woodinville Tuesday night. The Eagles pulled away from the Falcons in the third quarter, holding them to just five points.
Issaquah improved to 7-3 and 8-6 with the win and is in a tie with Redmond for second place in the KingCo Crest division. The Eagles host top-ranked Garfield at 8 p.m., today.
Beavers gnaw way past Wolves
Eastlake led Ballard at halftime, but was unable to hang on Tuesday night, losing 68-63. The Wolves, who led 24-20 at halftime, were outscored 18-8 in the third quarter and could never recover. Michael Russo led Eastlake with 16 points. Dillon Pericin (13), Turner Lee (12) and Chad Marxen (10) also scored in double figures for the Wolves, who fell to 2-9 in league and 3-12 overall.