Sometimes it’s not how you start, but how you finish, and the Edmonds-Woodway Warriors have certainly embodied that mantra.
A demoralizing 84-49 loss to the Central Valley Bears in the championship round of December’s Fort Vancouver Holiday Tournament left the Warriors with a 4-4 record early in the season. Since that loss, they’ve gone 10-2 for the rest of the regular season, closing it out Monday night was a decisive 68-51 victory over the Cedarcrest Red Wolves.
“The kids were just on a super high. I mean – Senior Night. I always tell anybody who listens, these guys love playing with each other,” head coach Robert Brown said. “And so they [The Warriors] got in a rhythm.”
Senior Night also marked the final regular-season game for Warrior seniors Mutdung Bol, Bryan Bunyatipanon, Andy Cerekja, Tollak Crawford, Chinedu Acholunu, and Nikko McNeal.
“It’s a big deal to me [to end senior night with a win], because our team has worked so hard,” said McNeal, who finished the game with 11 points. “From the beginning of the season until now, we’ve made huge strides, and so I’m really proud of the team because of that.”
While it may have been Senior Night for Mutdung Bol, his younger brother Nuer was able to share the spotlight. The Warriors junior guard erupted for 24 points, beginning with an impressive nine points in the first quarter.
The Warriors were aggressive early on, with two flashy dunks from Mutdung Bol to set the physical tone in the first quarter. Coupled with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Bunyatipanon — his second of the quarter — the Red Wolves had lost control early and would need to regroup in the second.
Kian Pegueros-Warren and Shawn Deming kept Cedarcrest in the game, keeping the deficit to just nine at the end of the first half. Deming finished the game with 18 points, six of which came during the third quarter, while Pegueros-Warren scored 17 on the night.
In the fourth, the Warriors put the game to bed in thrilling fashion. Nuer Bol was back at it again — scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter to extend the Warriors’ lead. Whether it was a drive-in layup, a floater in the mid-post, or a mid-range jumper from the baseline, Nuer Bol did it all. And he had a special surprise for the final dagger of the night: a one-handed dunk that had the Warriors’ crowd and bench rocking.
With the win Monday night, and a Meadowdale loss, the No. 4-seeded Warriors will host the Mavericks in the opening round of districts, which will be played Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. at Everett Community College.
“It’s playoff basketball. That’s what Coach Darrell (McNeal) said, man,” Mutdung Bol said. “High intensity. We going to have high focus. We going to be driven every practice these next four days.”
In other Edmonds-Woodway sports action on Monday, a furious comeback attempt by the Warriors’ girls basketball team came up short as E-W was held off by the Cedarcrest Red Wolves 42-39 in the 2019-2020 regular season finale for both teams.
The Warriors’ down 34-19 at the start of the fourth quarter, outscored the Red Wolves 20-8 in the final eight minutes. But it wouldn’t be enough as E-W lost the game and fell to 9-5 in Wesco League play, 11-9 overall for the year.
E-W will next head to the postseason District 1 3A Girls Basketball Tournament as the no.6-seed. The Warriors will open the double-elimination tourney with a game against the no.3-seed Ferndale Golden Eagles on Friday, Feb. 14; tipoff at Ferndale High School is set for 7:00 p.m.
Prep Boys Basketball: Cedarcrest at Edmonds-Woodway, Feb. 10
Cedarcrest 17 10 12 12 — 51
Edmonds-Woodway 26 10 12 20 — 68
Edmonds-Woodway individual scoring: Nuer Bol 24, Mutdung Bol 17, Nikko McNeal 11, Bryan Bunyatipanon 8, Andy Cerekja 6, Tollak Crawford 2
Cedarcrest individual scoring: Shawn Deming 18, Kian Pegueros-Warren 17, Nicolo Cammarano 5, Brennan Mallot 4, Cameron Brady 4, Dawson Cairns 3, Hogan Chase 2
Records: Edmonds-Woodway: 10-4 in 3A Wesco League, 14-6 overall; Cedarcrest 6-8 in 3A Wesco League, 9-11 overall
Edmonds-Woodway next game: vs. Meadowdale; Monday, Feb. 15; 7 p.m. at Meadowdale High School
Prep Girls Basketball: Edmonds-Woodway at Cedarcrest, Feb. 10
Edmonds-Woodway 9 3 7 20 — 39
Cedarcrest 9 11 14 8 — 42
Edmonds-Woodway individual scoring: Brooke Kearney 16, AJ Martineau 12, Jadyn Waram 5, Maddie McMahon 4, Mia Dickenson 2, Kaddy Kongira, Sydney Chappell, Hazel Mills
Cedarcrest individual scoring: Kat Townley 10, Sidra Griffin 9, Grace McKenzie 8, Ava Erhardt 4, Rose Carlson 4, Ava LaPorte 3, Helena VanEss 2, Madelyn Davidson 2, Jaylin Yowell
Records: Edmonds-Woodway 9-5 in 2A/3A Wesco League, 11-9 overall; Cedarcrest 8-6 in 2A/3A Wesco League, 13-7 overall
Edmonds-Woodway next game: versus Ferndale; Friday, Feb. 14; 7 p.m. at Ferndale High School (District 1 3A Girls Basketball Tournament first-round game)
— By David Gillespie