POULSBO — With 44 seconds left in the final game of the season, Poulsbo Junior High guard Jacob Gonzales debuted a brand-new move: he tried to fake out his coach.
Gonzales had been sitting on the bench for several minutes, and with Poulsbo up by 18, the team’s leading scorer was no longer needed in the game.
But he crept along the scorer’s table and knelt down, attempting to check himself back in for the final few ticks of the clock.
Head coach Clary Carlsen caught the crafty move and chuckled.
Then he waved Gonzales back to the bench.
But Gonzales – and any of the other Panthers — can’t be blamed for wanting a few more seconds of court time.
Their 77-60 victory over Bremerton gave them a perfect 12-0 season.
“It feels awesome,” Gonzales said after the game.
Gonzales led the team in scoring with 29 points — most of them quick-release three-pointers or driving, twisting layups — on the way to the victory, and center Ryan Young had added 24 points.
The Bulldogs had proved tough throughout the first quarter, as center Reese Schodey scored six points, including a jumper from the wing, to keep Bremerton close.
Gonzales hit two threes in the quarter to put the Panthers up, but the Poulsbo team held a skinny 16-11 lead as the second quarter arrived.
The Panthers extended that lead to 10 points at the half, then snapped a leash on the Bulldogs in the third, racing ahead by as many as 25 points.
Gonzales started the third-quarter scoring with four straight points, two on a long jumper, two on a wheeling baseline layup.
Young proved equally adept, catching the ball cleanly on a fast break and rolling in a layup, then, seconds later, faking, driving, and scoring a second layup to put the Panthers further ahead.
Travis Tobin chipped in as well, scoring at the end of a fast break, driving his way to another layup, then charging his way across the baseline and hitting a tough shot to widen the gap between the Panthers and the Bulldogs.
The Panthers, who survived a scare last week when Kingston took them to overtime, outscored the Bulldogs 34-17 in the third in order to run away with the game.
The celebration was subdued (Young briefly raised both fists in triumph), but the Panthers are proud of their achievement.
It’s been a long time coming, said Gonzales.
“It took us three years to gel,” he said.
Young said those years of experience came in handy: “We know where we are on the court,” he said.
Head coach Clary Carlsen said, “The kids worked hard. They’re enjoyable to work with, because they want to get better and they listen. They know that practice is the place to improve … and they did.”