Yelm boys basketball loses district playoff matchup, 73-69, to Evergreen

Tornados’ season ends with overall record of 7-12, 5-9 in final season of SSC


Yelm High School’s boys basketball season ended on Saturday, Feb. 10, in Vancouver following a 73-69 loss to the Evergreen Plainsmen in the district playoffs.

Despite a strong effort by senior Marius Aalona in the fourth quarter, Yelm’s comeback hopes came up short.

Evergreen led Yelm by 12 points at the end of the third quarter, but the Tornados fought their way back into the contest. Aalona scored three critical 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, along with another 3-pointer added by Alex Segarra.

The Tornados’ fourth quarter offensive efforts eventually cut Evergreen’s lead to just one point, 68-67, before the Plainsmen hit 5 of 6 free throws to put the district playoff matchup away.

“The message was a hard one. Saying goodbye to Marius (Aalona), Damian (Aalona), Onyx (Carter), Gio (Sanchez) and Damien (Williams-Butler) was tough, tough as it gets,” head coach Dave Wasankari said following the matchup with Evergreen. “They have given so much. They have brought Yelm basketball back to a competitive level. They’ve made the playoffs three straight years, and it would’ve been four. We took second place in the league during the COVID year. We are going to miss them.”

Wasankari believes the team will continue to trend upward, adding the coaching staff has worked hard to provide opportunities for player growth.

“These seniors are gone, but their commitment, work ethic, attitude, competitiveness and leadership does not leave when they leave,” Wasankari said. “It was witnessed each and every day by the underclassmen. The underclassmen have seen it, and I believe they’ve learned from the seniors and will embrace their style going forward.”

Despite trailing by as many points as 12 in the contest, Wasankari said his team knew that basketball is a game of runs. He said his seniors stayed disciplined and committed to getting stops on defense while executing offensively in order to cut the gap. The team’s late fourth-quarter efforts nearly brought Yelm ahead of the Plainsmen.

Evergreen sophomore guard Dez Daniel scored 41 points in the contest, including 24 first-half points. Daniel converted six 3-point shots throughout the entirety of the district playoff matchup.