The Yelm boys basketball team finished off the season strong with a 64-47 victory over River Ridge High School for senior night, thanks to an effort by senior Terelle Dunn, who clinched second in league for the Tornados with a slam dunk at the end of the season’s final game.
The successful season ended with an 8-4 record.
Coach Dave Wasankari was named league Coach of the Year, Jeshua Hardie and Dunn received all-league first team honors and Damian and Marius Aalona each made second team.
Wasankari said he’s proud of how his boys competed during the season.
“The expectation was for us to get better on the defensive end and for us to get better on the offensive end,” he said. “It’s very simple, right? But I think as the season progressed, we collectively played defense a lot better than where I thought we would be at this time in the year.”
And Wasankari said the boys didn’t stop at defensive might. They worked as a team to create powerful plays at the hoop.
“Probably the biggest compliment I can give is that our team on offense … they share the ball,” he said. “We use a term, ‘the ball will find the open guy,’ so we really share the ball. Ultimately, that’s a credit to the kids for buying in.”
The boys’ competitive spirit made all the difference, Wasankari said.
“They really compete hard everyday and they love competing against each other on a daily basis,” he said. “And they compete together on game night.”
This being Wasankari’s first season as the head boys coach at Yelm High School, he said he’s glad he got the chance to share his passion for the sport with such a great group of boys.
“I just really enjoy coaching and teaching the game,” he said. “Every day you show up to practice with a couple points of emphasis to get better and I just personally really enjoy doing that. I really enjoy when we have a group that we have now that really enjoy basketball and love to learn.”
He said the camaraderie of the boys was a lot of fun to take part in.
While the team is young, with only one senior, Wasankari said the boys’ ability to buy into the program lifted them to a place where their inexperience was inconsequential.
The final games of the season rounded out with the following stats:
Yelm at North Thurston
The Tornados beat North Thurston High School 69-56 on June 3.
The high-point scorer was Hardie with a towering 22 points.
Capital at Yelm
The Tornados beat Capital High School 65-58 on June 4.
The high-point scorers were Damian Aalona with 15 points, Hardie with 19 and Nathan Paul with 16.
Timberline at Yelm
Timberline High School beat the Tornados 65-61 in a nailbiter on June 10.
The high-point scorers for Yelm were Hardie with 27 points, and Damian and Marius Aalona each with 10.
River Ridge at Yelm
The Tornados beat River Ridge High School 64-47 on June 11 for senior night.
The high-point scorers were Dunn and Hardie each with 15 points and Paul with 13.
“Dunn had a big senior night,” Wasankari said. “He hit two big (3-pointers) down the stretch and finished off the night with a big dunk to seal second place in league for Yelm.”