The Franklin Pierce Cardinals had trimmed Sumner’s lead to nine points on three different occasions, but the Spartans pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 59-42 victory on Dec. 17 at Sumner High School.
The Spartans (3-1) outscored the Cardinals 17-11 down the stretch in a showdown between South Puget Sound League 2A rivals.
Sumner guard Riley Bruil hit three back-breaking 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help put the game away.
“It was a close game,” Bruil said. “They beat us in the third quarter, and we thought we needed to prove ourselves in the fourth. I think we did it. We worked our butts off and just buried them.
“This is a great start to our season,” he said. “We’re just going to keep on getting better.”
A signature play came when Bruil missed a free-throw attempt with the Spartans leading by 11. The ball caromed off the rim, but forward Tristan Pearson boxed out a Cardinals defender for an offensive rebound and scored a layup to extend Sumner’s lead to 52-39 with 4:13 left in regulation.
Sumner head coach Brett McDaniel believes hustle plays make the difference in regard to momentum.
“Tristan is an unsung hero for us,” McDaniel said. “He doesn’t get a lot of points, he’s not flashy, and he can’t jump, but he always provides a spark when we need it. He is constantly giving us energy. Every team needs a guy like that he’s been that guy for us.”
McDaniel said his team doesn’t get rattled when it faces adversity due to its experience.
“Now that we have some seasoned players, you’re starting to see that leadership,” he said. “We’ve been in tough situations before, and it’s not as stressful because we have seen it before, and we can adjust to different situations.
“Most of the guys on this team have been on varsity for two or three years now. Usually in year three, you start to see the maturity come out in pressure situations. That is something we’re going to continue to build on all year.”
Sports Editor Shaun Scott can be reached at 253-552-7002 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_shaun.