The Nisqually League is a hotbed for state championships in high school boys basketball. Want proof?
The class 1A champions were Wright in 2007-08, Vashon in 2008-09 and Cascade Christian in 2009-10 and 2010-11. That’s four titles for Nisqually schools in four seasons, a stranglehold that was broken the past two years when Lynden Christian and Toledo took the prize.
So it’s an understatement when Eatonville coach Mark Swartout calls the Nisqually, which includes his Cruisers among its members, “very competitive.”
Add that fact to the loss of two all-league performers from last season’s Cruisers, and it becomes obvious that the 2013-14 campaign will “be a very challenging year,” Swartout said.
Eatonville was 16-7 last season, finishing with a loss in the playoffs to the King’s Knights, who wound up as the runnerup team in the 1A state tournament. Gone from that Eatonville squad are high-scoring Brendan Davis, an All-Nisqually selection, and Josh Bennett, who was named to the all-league second team.
Nevertheless, Swartout said this season’s goal is a top-four finish in the Nisqually. Players who will be crucial to the Cruisers’ success include three seniors with previous varsity experience – Caleb Keefer, who’s a third-year post, and team co-captains Marcos Sanchez, a point guard, and Jeff Patterson, a wing. Both are in their second seasons.
Swartout, who’s in his 12th year of leading the Cruisers, also is turning to senior point guard Joe Evans, junior posts Justin Kaelin and Jonathon Warner, junior point guards Isaac Boettcher and Wyatt Coleman, and senior post Chase Demoor. All are making their varsity debuts.
Eatonville won two of its first three Nisqually contests, losing to Seattle Christian but beating Cascade Christian and lChimacum. During the schools’ holiday break, the Cruisers will face host Cascade and Okanogan in a two-day tournament Dec. 27-28 before returning to Nisqually action Jan. 7 at Bellevue Christian.
Against Chimacum Dec. 17, their last game before the Cascade tourney, the Cruisers got double-digit scoring from Evans (15 points), Sanchez (11) and Boettcher (10) en route to a 55-52 victory on their home court. Eatonville led 27-18 at halftime, then held the Cowboys off the rest of the way.