ANACORTES — The storyline could have been much different for the Anacortes boys’ basketball team.
It could have easily been about a season that came and went without much fanfare — or wins.
The Seahawks, however, reversed their early fortunes, and are now among the final 12 teams in the Class 2A State Tournament.
“The goal was always to play in Yakima,” Anacortes coach Brett Senff said. “To get back on that floor, win and have some fun.”
After the Seahawks started 0-4, the season could have easily been chalked up to a lack of experience and rebuilding.
Having fun, probably not so much. Making it to Yakima, well ...
“We just needed to find our rhythm,” senior guard Nick Cortright said. “This team is good. We just weren’t good at the start. We just needed to get that chemistry, find that mindset. ... I had a feeling we would do it (make it to Yakima).”
There was no way Senff was going to let the season simply slip away.
His teams are built on defense, and at the beginning of the season that defense wasn’t there.
“There was certainly some adversity,” Senff said. “I knew we were better. I knew, obviously, we had to get better.
“As a team, they had to regroup and improve. As a coach, you can’t make sudden changes. It’s baby steps, with the realization they are going to get better. I’ve been doing this for a while. You can’t let them figure out there isn’t some plan. It’s about staying the course and letting them figure it out.”
Senff knows he’s a fiery personality on the court.
His players know it, too, but they know he’s that way because he cares.
“I’m boisterous, I’m loud,” Senff said. “But it isn’t going to do any good to get louder. This group is about the nicest group of kids I’ve coached. I care about every one of them. They know that.”
He said the stretch of four losses was tough, but said he never saw his players give up, or appear overwhelmed.
“No one was doubting this team,” Cortright said. “Those first four games, we didn’t believe in the system. Then we started believing and not doubting. We got confident.”
It was just a matter of getting the team back on track, and that meant getting the team back on defense.
Senff knew these players had it in them. They just needed that potential to be tapped and released on the court.
“Everything we do is predicated on defense,” Senff said. “This is a very good defensive team, one of the best defensive teams I’ve had. They listen intently to everything I say, almost to a fault because it can sometimes hurt us offensively. You tell them a game plan and they’ll key on that. It’s tricky. We are still working on that.”
Senior guard Cort Senff said it was just matter of figuring a couple things out.
“We all know we can hold teams defensively,” he said. “We just needed to fix a couple of things. Defensively, we like to set the pace.”
The Seahawks went from 0-4 to 3-5 and then to 5-6. They are now 16-8 and have won seven of their past eight games.
Their first win — Dec. 10 against Bellingham — gave them a much needed boost.
It was something they could build upon.
“That got it started,” Cortright said. “The coach said you win and then move on to win the next game.”
“We were 0-4,” Brett Senff said. “But after that, I told the team is was a new season. Everyone was 0-0. We got that first win, then it was on to No. 2. We played a decent Christmas Tournament, came back, and then things began to change. We came off a good win against Marysville-Getchell, then suffered a tough loss to Lake Stevens. We got tougher after that.”
Senff said leadership is a team concept and always has been. He said everyone has stepped up.
The Seahawks this season actually celebrated a two-point loss to a Lynden Christian team that over the past two seasons is 51-1 and is favored to win a second consecutive Class 1A state title.
“After that loss (to the Lyncs), we actually celebrated,” Brett Senff said. “It was exciting because they saw they could play with a team of that level.”
Now the Seahawks are among the final 12 teams in the state in Class 2A.
“There was never any doubt we’d be at this point right now,” Cort Senff said. “It’s awesome.”