TULALIP — The Tulalip Heritage boys basketball team appears to be coming into its own after putting together its third-consecutive win, defeating Lopez Island 60-39 Jan. 23.
The Hawks had no problem with Lopez Island the week before, winning 80-46, but coach Marlin Fryberg hopes Heritage can keep the streak going.
“When we played Lopez last week, it kind of woke us up a bit,” Fryberg said. “We got a couple of tough games coming so hopefully the boys can continue that momentum.”
The boys had trouble synchronizing on the inside early, missing on some easy layups. The Hawks were behind 2-1, until junior forward Samuel Fryberg landed a 3-pointer, ending the cold first quarter 6-4.
Tulalip got its scoring rhythm down, scoring 20 and 25 points in the second and third quarters, finally coasting into the fourth quarter scoring nine.
Junior guard Nashone Whitebear led the Hawks with 17 points, and 5-foot-2 freshman point guard Josh Miranda scored three 3-point goals, ending the game with 11 points. Samuel Fryberg also scored 11.
“We got a young squad,” Coach Fryberg said. “We just have to put some minds together. They can win a basketball game if they put their minds to it and work hard.”
The challenge of “working with young minds” comes in finishing games, the coach said, adding that’s why the team is 6-9.
“How you finish is going to play a big role in the next day,” Fryberg said.
Teams like No. 1 Lummi Nation trounced Tulalip twice, 65-31 and 74-36, but the Hawks have failed to close out some close games that would have put them in better position in the standings, Fryberg said.
“What we’re trying to focus on is finishing,” Fryberg said. “Some of those games outside of Lummi, we’ve lost by five or six points. When the pressure gets on, it’s hard for these boys to close out.”
The Hawks only have one senior, but Fryberg expects leadership roles out of the junior-heavy team.
“We’ve got a lot of expectations out of them. We don’t have a lot of height,” Fryberg said. “They’ve played for us already when they were part of a program a couple of years ago when we had a solid team.”
But even putting experienced juniors in leadership roles can be daunting, Fryberg said.
“We expect them to know, so we’re forcing them into that leadership role,” Fryberg said. “We’re working on developing those skills from each one of those boys.”
There’s also difficulty in coaching young players.
“It’s no fault of them, they’re just a young ball club,” Fryberg said. “When you don’t have all five players rolling on the same cylinders it makes it tough for the whole team.”
Though its been an up-and-down ride for the fledgling Hawks, Fryberg said Tulalip can finish on a high mark.
“We can still finish strong,” Fryberg said.