TACOMA — Championship teams come ready to play all four quarters every night, especially during postseason action.
But, in their first district battle, the Kingston High School Buccaneers weren’t prepared when the whistle blew, dropping the game to Foster 48-44 Wednesday night in Tacoma.
“In the first half we weren’t ready to play,” said head coach Kevin Strozier. “I don’t know why we weren’t ready. I know we were mentally and physically ready because I prepared them to play.”
Strozier said turnovers and missed shots played an instrumental role in the 13-point deficit, 31-18, the Bucs took into the locker room at the half.
Strozier didn’t make excuses for the team, not letting nerves or time off trump the need to play with intensity and aggression.
“I expected them to be nervous because that’s a part of competition,” he said, “but for a championship team that goes away and I consider us a championship team.”
Instead the team spent the break settling down, regrouping and discussing what went wrong.
Strozier asked the history-making athletes, “Did we play aggressive?”
The response came back a collective “No.”
Next he asked, “Did we play intense?”
Again a resounding “No.”
And finally, “Are we communicating?”
The answer was one word, “No.”
“I said, ‘we know where we are now, our backs are against the wall,” Strozier said. “We have to come out fighting and we did just that. We played hard basketball in the second half.”
Senior Riley Watts led the charge with 18 buckets while freshman Sophia Baetz tallied 11 points.
As a whole Strozier said the Bucs played more aggressively, made good defensive plays and snagged some rebounds and steals, which narrowed the gap to 3 with less than two minutes remaining.
But a few minutes was just enough time for Foster to stave off the advancing Bucs.
“Foster made some baskets,” Strozier said. “They’re a scrappy team.”
Although the North End athletes left the arena a little down, knowing they must win their next game or face state berth elimination, the season is not over yet and the hoop hotshots still have the fighting spirit.
“We still have the opportunity to achieve our goal of getting to state,” Strozier said. “We know what we have to do, we have to come out and play all four quarters. We’re not done fighting yet.”
The Bucs played the Sequim Wolves Friday. Results of the game weren’t available prior to presstime.
Heading into the matchup the teams had split victories, each winning at home during regular season play. On Dec. 21 Sequim defeated Kingston 53-47. But on Feb. 1 the Wolves bark was louder than their bite, as the Bucs won 43-30.
If Kingston came out with a win, it plays the loser of the Foster, Eatonville match up today.
Either way, as long as the Bucs continue to give 100 percent, outcomes don’t really matter.
“If we give our best effort and we don’t win, that’s OK,” Strozier said. “I can ask no more of them than to give their best effort.”