Without injured star senior Brad Shaw, Snohomish relied on a pair of juniors last year. While the Panthers were eliminated in the Northwest District Tournament after going 12-11 (9-7 in Wesco North), guard Blane Ortiz and forward Jon McGee gained valuable experience shouldering more of the scoring load.
Ortiz (8.5 ppg) and McGee (8.0 ppg) wound up as the team’s third- and fourth-leading scorers.
Unfortunately for Snohomish coach Len Bone, these were the only non-seniors in the rotation.
To make matters worse this season, Snohomish split its first six games with Ortiz out. But in his season debut Monday, Ortiz had a team-high 22 points in a 72-65 overtime win over visiting Ingraham as Snohomish rallied after blowing an 11-point lead with 1:17 left in regulation.
“Getting him back is really going to help us,” said Bone, who mentioned that Ortiz was academically ineligible prior to Winter break. “He got himself squared around academically. Hopefully he’s going to be able to stay in there.”
As for McGee, the 6-5, 215-pounder was solid as usual Monday with 15 points and 11 rebounds despite fouling out in overtime. “Jon’s been real steady,” Bone said. “He’s a solid person. He’s even-keeled, he doesn’t get too high or too low.”
Bone realizes that any game for Snohomish (4-3, 3-1) will likely come down to how well his star seniors play. “The main thing with them is that they’ve been through it before,” said the 14th-year coach, who admitted that this is the greenest squad he’s had at Snohomish.
Next up for the Panthers is tonight’s non-league game at Juanita (2-6, 0-3 Kingco 3A).