The Tornados boys basketball team won two out of its last three games over the past couple weeks.
Yelm’s record is currently 4-2 overall and 4-1 in league play.
“They’re doing well,” Coach Dave Wasankari said of the Tornados’ performance as a whole. “We go into practice with a purpose to get better in one area based on the day before, the game before. Collectively, they’re working together and they work hard together and they’re building trust together, and putting themselves in a position to get better and learn each day.”
Yelm beat River Ridge High School 67-58 at home on May 11. The top scorer was Jeshua Hardie with 18 points, followed by Samoan Aalona with 14 points and Nathan Paul with 11 points.
Wasankari said River Ridge is an athletic team that put up a fight, holding the Tornados back defensively and breaking up the offensive plays throughout the game, yet Yelm’s boys came out on top.
“We settled for shots that weren’t traditionally shots we get within our offense, but in the fourth quarter, we really dialed in to our offense and really got the ball where it needed to be,” Wasankari said. “We got some good looks and locked down on defense and ran away with it at the end by nine points.”
In addition, the Tornados narrowly lost to Timberline High School 67-65 in an away game on May 14. Hardie was the top scorer with 24 points, followed by Paul with 14 points and Terrell Dunn with 12 points.
Wasankari said that Timberline was a big game because the team has some good talent and is well coached.
“That’s the one that was a pretty cool game,” he said. “Going to Timberline is hard to win, and we played well. We competed well.”
The boys did everything they were supposed to do to remain competitive throughout the game, Wasankari said.
“We played defense collectively, and I think it was just one of those games that at the very end it could have gone either way.”
When there were only seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter, Yelm, which was down 67-65, received an opportunity.
“We got an open look at the very end — a three pointer to win it — and it was in and out,” Wasankari said. “So no shame in losing that game, because our effort and commitment to each other in the game was really high.”
Finally, Yelm almost doubled North Thurston’s score on May 21 at home with a 69-36 victory over the school. Hardie again rose to the top with another 24 points, followed by Dunn and Joe Sapegin each with 10 points.
“We just played … really well,” Wasankari said. “All around, we … executed on both the offensive and defensive end.”
Wasankari said that Hardie may be putting up more than 20 points, but he is also playing selfless basketball along with the others on the team who maybe don’t look as impressive in a box score. Those team members should be celebrated as well, Wasankari said.
“I think it’s a talented group and our potential is high,” he said. “Each day our goal is to just get closer and closer to reaching our potential.”