Last season when the Fife Trojans (3-2 overall, 7-4 overall) made their way across town to play their rivals, the Steilacoom Sentinels (1-4, 2-9), it was considered the game of the week in the local newspaper. The house was full, and journalists and photographers lined up to get their shots. In that first meeting of the season last year, the Trojans faced a heartbreaking overtime loss, 60-58. After the game, hundreds of Sentinels fans rushed the court and congratulated their team as if they had one the state championship. This year, however, things have drastically quieted down for the Sentinels. Their win column is rather empty, their entourage of screaming fans has dissipated, and the media frenzy is now more focused on the undefeated Clover Park(5-0, 10-0).
Regardless of last year’s loss for Fife and the Sentinel’s quiet season thus far, the rivalry was clearly evident as the two took the court.
Trojans head coach Mark Schelbert gave his thought on the important league game against Steilacoom.
“We are 2-2 in league, and we really need to get this win. I just hope we are ready to play. We haven’t really played really well on the road as we have at home, so I hope our mental focus is where it is supposed to be. We are going to try to go inside out on offense and keep them to one and done and rebounds.”
The Trojans came out sluggish, giving the Sentinels momentum and some hope of rectifying their dismal 2010-11 season. However, the Trojans were quick to regroup and take advantage of their talented bench, squashing the Sentinels 58-46 at the final buzzer.
In the first half, the Sentinels responded with every run the Trojans presented, making for a high-scoring first period of play, 21-19, advantage Trojans. Trojans sharpshooter senior Kevin McCrossin (13 points, 3-of-6 3-pointers and field goals) broke out of his slump, hitting back-to-back three-pointers early in the half. Senior guard Jack Murrey continued to contribute, aggressively assaulting the basket with easy lay-ins and offensive put backs. In the opening minute of second period, the Trojans took advantage of the height difference in the post and immediately went to junior Bryce Miller (10 Points) for quick points.
Keeping the Sentinels in the game in first half was forward Matt Bender, going 4-of-7 from the perimeter.
The Sentinels stifling defense in the second period limited the Trojans from scoring from the field, but it did allow two three-pointers by junior guardCox (11 points) and McCrossin
The Trojans ended the first half going 9-of-18 from the field, 2-of-4 from the free throw line, and 3-of-9 from the perimeter. The Sentinels led at intermission 31-28.
At the third period 2:53 mark, the Trojans broke loose from the pesky Sentinels, when Cox took advantage of the sagging defense and drained two back-to-back threes and later a short jump shot from the corner, changing the momentum and causing an 8-2 run. In the fourth period, Coach Schelbert looked to his bench to step up and play solid defense and continue the run-and-gun offense, and his Trojans did the job, finishing the Sentinels off with ease.
changer Travis Cox had these humble post-game comments about his role coming off the bench.
“I accept my role, and I appreciate that I just get in and play. I do what Coach Schelbert wants me to do, and scoring and defense is what he wants. I was just open and on,” Cox said.
“We just came out really flat. I just think we didn’t come prepared, and that’s the coaches’ fault, mine specifically. I went to bench to find that right combination,” Schelbert said. “Travis Cox played a great game and gave us that needed spark. Our kids responded in the second half, gutted up, and got some stops. Steilacoom is a well-coached team. At the half, we just talked to the kids about having heart and picking up the intensity.”
The Trojans continue their road trip as they play White River (3-2, 3-7) on Jan. 14. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.