Emerald Ridge junior Wain Clarke hustled to grab a rebound in overtime, and it helped his Jaguars preserve a 66-65 victory against the Puyallup Vikings on Thursday night at Emerald Ridge High School.
Clarke, who scored just five points, battled a Puyallup player in the paint following a missed free throw and tipped the ball to one of his teammates on the perimeter. Senior Marcus Harris sank two free throws with 15.5 seconds left, and the Jaguars (1-0) prevailed.
Emerald Ridge head coach Pat Mullen said he enjoys having a gritty player like Clarke on his team.
“He just keeps working hard, and he likes that role,” Mullen said. “He did a really great job there on that play.”
Emerald Ridge post Trey Darst scored six of his team’s 11 points in overtime, including a 4-for-4 effort from the free-throw line. Darst had two timely blocks in the final minute of regulation.
Harris, who scored a game-high 28 points, said those plays ignited the team.
“Trey’s defense helped us and gave us a spark,” Harris said. “It motivated us to play even harder. The coaches told us during the timeouts that we just needed to talk and play hard on defense. It worked.”
Puyallup (1-1) bolted out to an 18-7 lead in the first quarter. The Vikings were proficient from beyond the arc and finished the game with 10 three-pointers. Vikings post DJ Winter scored 15 in the paint.
Mullen said the key to the victory was to slow down Puyallup’s fast-paced offensive attack in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Vikings made just two three-pointers in the final 12 minutes.
“We stopped getting beat off the penetration,” Mullen said. “They had some open shots, and they missed some shots. Every three they take, it looks like it is going to go in, and you just kind of hope it doesn’t.
“What we did a good job of is, when they missed, we got rebounds,” Mullen said. “We didn’t give them any second or third opportunities, which is huge against those guys.”
Harris said winning the season opener against a rival meant everything to the team.
“We knew it was going to be big,” he said. “This was a great win to set the tone for the season.”