Woerner, Lester rally Wolves basketball past Spartans

January 21, 2014

By Neil Pierson

The play is called “Money,” and Davis Woerner made sure it was worth every cent.

Needing a clutch shot late in regulation, Eastlake High boys basketball coach Brian Dailey drew up a play for Woerner, the Wolves’ 6-foot-6 senior forward, who has exceptional range for a player of his size.

Woerner sank a 3-pointer from the left corner, tying the score late in the fourth quarter, and visiting Eastlake went on to defeat rival Skyline, 81-76, in overtime in a Jan. 14 Class 4A KingCo Conference contest.

Woerner, who finished with 18 points on six 3-point buckets, said the play was executed well. Eastlake faked a pass to one corner of the court, and Mick Vorhof and Jake Davidson set a double screen for Woerner, who tied the score at 69 with 15.1 seconds left.

“I have to give it to my teammates for that,” Woerner said. “That allowed me to hit it.”

Dailey said Woerner responded well after a subpar, seven-point outing against Redmond four days earlier. The Wolves (8-5 overall, 4-3 conference) lost that game, 64-59.

“Mentally, he is so positive,” Dailey said. “If he was taking the shot at the end of the game, and the game’s on the line, I’d put our team’s life in his hands.”

Skyline (5-4, 3-4) had a chance to win in the final seconds, but senior guard Jonah Eastern missed a 3-pointer amidst heavy defensive pressure.

In overtime, Eastlake picked up a key offensive foul that negated a basket from Skyline’s Collin Crisp.

Vorhof then drilled a contested jumper to give the Wolves the lead, and Jordan Lester finished a 3-point play off a Mason Pierzchalski assist to make it 76-71.

Vorhof scored 18 points and Pierzchalski added 11 for the Wolves.

Trailing by three, the Spartans forced a turnover on an Eastlake inbounds play, and had one final chance to keep the game going. But junior Robert Biegaj – who had a game-high 26 points – was short on a contested 3-pointer, and Lester iced the game for the Wolves with two free throws.

That completed a remarkable rally for Eastlake, which had to climb out of holes in both halves. Skyline led by as many as 11 points in the first half, then broke free again with a 19-8 surge in the third quarter to lead 58-46.

Skyline’s hot shooting from beyond the arc hurt Eastlake for much of the game. Eastern, who scored 20 points, had five of his team’s nine 3-pointers.

But the Spartans managed only one trey in the fourth period and overtime, and the Wolves outscored them 35-18 in that 12-minute stretch.

“(Dailey) told us to close out on shooters, because they were getting hot,” Woerner said. “And we were able to close out and contest their shots, and that made them miss more than they were making in the beginning.”

The Wolves mixed in a trapping zone defense that forced several turnovers, but that wasn’t what turned the game around, Dailey felt.

“We changed some schemes on defense, but I think the most important adjustment our guys made was they turned up their energy,” the coach said. “I think it didn’t matter what defense we were in – if they had that energy, it was going to up the tempo, and we would get some confidence and get some easy shots.”

The second quarter featured six lead changes, and Skyline went to halftime with a 39-38 edge. The home squad came out of the break on fire as Eastern, Biegaj and Dae’von Bovan all hit 3-pointers, and Bovan had a buzzer-beating putback to rebuild Skyline’s double-digit edge.

Down the stretch, though, Eastlake’s Jordan Lester proved invaluable. He scored 14 of his team-leading 24 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

“Jordan is great – the offense runs through him because he’s the point guard, and once he gets that ball moving, then we all move and we get confidence,” Woerner said. “So his assists lead to our points.”

Eastlake and Skyline will be on the road this week as they attempt to improve their playoff positions. The Spartans play at Newport at 8 p.m. Jan. 24, and the Wolves go to Bothell that night for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.

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