Comeback falls short for Quincy hoopsters
Crispin Cruz said it best.
One of many Wahluke Warrior fans who made the trip north to watch their boys play the Quincy Jacks on Dec. 4, Cruz told a friend as he exited Woodworth Court, “This felt like a final.”
High praise indeed for two teams who went right at each other for 32 minutes and battled as if there was a trophy on the line. In the end, the only prize was the W on the standings, and that belonged to Wahluke, by a score of 55-44.
The loss left the hard-luck Jacks winless after four tries, including defeats to Selah at home Nov. 30, (71-31 in favor of the Vikings) and East Valley-Yakima the next day, (59-22, in favor of the hosting Red Devils).
Against Wahluke (3-0), the Jacks had good possession of the ball, and had good looks at the basket, but their shooting was streaky.
“We didn’t shoot it very well today,” head coach Scott Bierlink said. “We kind of knew that going in, that we were going to have to win it with defense and rebounding. We had good looks, but we could not quite knock ‘em down.”
A tough second quarter put Wahluke ahead by as many as 14 early in the fourth quarter. Although the Jacks got within six points with a minute and a half to go in the fourth, the rim was not their friend, and Wahluke grabbed some key rebounds to regain possession and put the game away.
A late drive by Macario Vega rimmed out and left the sophomore grabbing his head with both hands in disbelief. The basket would have shrunken Wahluke’s lead to four points with 48 seconds to go. Instead, the lead remained at six, and despite Wahluke missing a free throw on the next possession, the Jacks could inch no closer.
Max Molina, on his first game of the season, had 18 points for the Jacks. Louis Merred had nine points, including seven in the fourth quarter. Felipe Zepeda had five points, Vega and Joahan Fregoso had four points, Aidan Heikes and Andy Guerrero had two points each.
“Part of it is, we need to play with confidence and some guys are a little tentative,” said Bierlink, a first-year head coach. “When you think about the game, you don’t perform at your best. Hopefully we will work on that and the guys will feel a little more comfortable with each other and with my system.”
Asked how comfortable he was, after 11 years as an assistant coach, the proverbial ‘good cop,’ now being the ‘bad cop’ head coach, Bierlink said “I have no problem being the bad cop. I have known these guys for a long time, and these kids know me and some of them gotta get used to me. I coach pretty hard, I am pretty intense, and that’s kind of the expectation.”
Next up for Quincy are the Grandview Greyhounds at home Friday night.
“If we compete and play hard, we have a chance to maybe win that game,” Bierlink said. The Greyhounds are 0-3 and giving up an average of 74.3 points per game. In comparison, the 0-4 Jacks are giving up an average of 59.2 points. The ‘Hounds are scoring an average of 41.6 points per game and the Jacks are scoring an average of 33.7 ppg.
“We gotta rebound a little better, and offensively we are getting pretty good looks and we just gotta be able to shoot with confidence,” Bierlink said.
Some days the hoop looks like a slinky and, Bierlink added, “some days the hoop looks like an ocean. We have guys who have never experienced an ocean. Hopefully that will change.”
The Jacks then play the 1-1 Prosser Mustangs the next day on the road. Both games tip off at 7:15 p.m.
By Sebastian Moraga, firstname.lastname@example.org