FORKS – The pace was furious from the tipoff. Forks, led by the hot-handled senior Colton Raben, and Hoquiam, disciples of the up-tempo philosophy of Coach Curtis Eccles, both embraced a tenacious offensive attack. The only difference early on was that Forks was getting their looks to fall.
With 5:50 remaining in the first quarter and the Spartans working on extending an 8-2 lead, Eccles called for a timeout and his Grizzlies held a frantic huddle in an attempt to adjust to the reciprocating pace and rotating zone play of Forks.
The momentum of the game flipped shortly after that timeout, but it likely had little to do with the harried strategizing of that early timeout. Instead, Hoquiam was the reluctant benefactor of a devastating injury to Forks sparkplug sophomore Jeffrey Schumack.
The impact that caused the injury was not obvious during the action, but the outcome was no less severe. Schumack knew the damage before even being attended to. Writhing on the floor, he could be heard lamenting the premature end of his season. Tests at the hospital later confirmed Schumack’s intuition; A broken knee at the growth plate.
“It’s a huge loss for us,” said Forks coach Rick Gooding. “He has started every game for us and has done well in that role. He is a great effort guy. It’s impressive the job he has done at his size.” Schumack is graciously listed at 5’5” on the roster.
An understandably morose cloud settled on the Spartans and their faithful after the prolonged injury timeout. Seizing the opportunity, Hoquiam was able to turn their deficit into an 11-10 lead just over two minutes later.
Forks was able to tie the game up again at 18 with fifty seconds left in the first quarter, but that would be the last share of the lead they would enjoy. When the final horn sounded, Hoquiam had claimed a tooth and nail tough 76-65 1A Evergreen League victory.
The Grizzly victory was propelled by an impressive team effort that came one point away from seeing five players in double figures. Jerod Steen led all scorers with 28 points.
Depending on the game, “We do have multiple guys scoring in double figures,” explained Eccles, who noted that Steen and Jack Adams III generally lead the charge. “That’s an advantage we do have, is teams can’t focus in on just one guy.”
Eccles also said that his team’s stampeding tempo is a consistent trait that happened to be well suited to a shorthanded Forks team that played only nine Spartans, including the injured Schumack.
“We emphasize that day in and day out,” said Eccles. “We wanted to make it a little more of a horse race tonight.”
Despite ultimately coming up short in their effort, Forks did not go quietly into the night after the loss of their teammate. Foremost, Raben dazzled the home crowd with a patented showcase of long range three-point connections and shifty sleight of hand dribbling exploits. Raben tallied 23 points on the evening, while shooting fifty percent from the field including four of seven on three pointers launched from the vicinity of Beaver.
“He is one of the most competitive players ever, but he is also one of the best teammates,” said Gooding of his team leader, Raben. “He puts it all on him and takes these losses just as hard as anyone.”
Even Eccles offered up unsolicited praise of Raben. “Hat’s off to Colton Raben. He had an outstanding game,” said Eccles. “We obviously could have done a better job defending some of his attempts, but heck, even his shots that were contested went in.”
Park Browning cobbled together 16-points for Forks, and 6’5” sophomore Marky Adams enjoyed a breakout game notching a 17-point and 14 rebound double-double.
“This was his best game so far,” said Gooding of his 15-year old pillar in the post. “We told him, ‘Basically every shot is a pass to you.’ He is just a big presence in there. Besides being tall, he is a big body, and to his credit, he is an excellent up and down jumper.”
Gooding knew right where to point for the recent transformation of his big man. “I give all the credit to Coach (Mark) Raben who told him, ‘Look, nobody is going to stop you.’ Since then it’s just kind of clicked for him and he’s battled hard.”
In the shadow of the league loss the real concern for Forks was for the injured Schumack. After returning from the hospital with a squadron of concerned Spartans still in uniform, Gooding spoke reverently about his fallen soldier.
“He is just one tough kid. He was in great spirits, joking with the guys when we got there to see him,” told Gooding.
According to his coach, the only time his player showed any kind of pain was when the doctor revealed the true extent of his injury.
Some losses are beyond the wins and losses columns.
GRIZZLIES 22 19 17 18 – 76
SPARTANS 18 19 16 12 – 65
FORKS (65) Raben 23, Adams 17, Browning 16, Baysinger 4, Schumack 3, Tejano 2 Ramsey, Pegram, Rondeau – FG% 26/62 (.420) 3PT% 8/21 (.380) FT% 5/11 (.450) REB 37 (Adams 14)
HOQUIAM – Steen 28, Adams 14, Ko. Standstipher 13, Varner 12, Andersen 9, Spradlin 2 FG% 30/62 (.480) 3PT% 6/17 (.350) FT% 10/11 (.910) REB 30 (Varner 9)
The Lady Spartans came out of the gate hot and held a 6-5 lead halfway through the first quarter. Ultimately though, Forks could not keep up with a deep and unrelenting Hoquiam squad for the full four quarters, and lost their 1A Evergreen League contest by a score of 68-22.
Skyler DeMatties led all Spartan scorers with 12 points, while Alex Henderson chipped in four points. Sage Baar, Amber Hoagland, and Kaitlin Rowley each added two points to the Forks final tally.