By FRANCIS FEDOR
Sumner finished its season with its third consecutive loss, 67-65, to Newsome. The squad finishes with a 20-8 record and a playoff win vs. Strawberry Crest.
The Stingrays looked to reverse the outcome of their district championship game vs the Wolves, returning to Newsome for the second time in a week. The Stingrays lost on Fri., Feb. 10, after getting outplayed in a second quarter where the Wolves expanded their lead through success from beyond the 3-Point line to put enough distance between them and the Stingrays to all but eliminate any chance of a comeback victory.
The Stingrays traveled back to Newsome on Fri., Feb. 17, and brought an energy to the gym with a focus on being the team that defeated the Wolves early in the season. Sumner was neck and neck with Newsome for most of the night and demonstrated the grit that they showed in the first meeting. The first quarter ended knotted at 15, but the Wolves built a 38-33 half-time lead and the home gym was sensing a blow-out. Sumner saw its season slipping away and easily could have caved to the home crowd emotion.
The Stingrays faced a 61-53 deficit with 4:36 left in the fourth quarter, but they refused to concede, grabbed the emotion and made a run to try to save their season. The defense held and successful offensive sequences pulled the Stingrays to within a bucket. A big block by Newsome may have been the difference, and it could be debated that Josiah Harding was fouled on the play and should have been shooting free-throws to tie the game. The Sumner defense again held and flipped back to offense with a chance to tie or win in the last moments. Caleb Williams brought the ball to the corner and was trapped, forcing interim Head Coach Ryan Bethoney to call a timeout with just under two seconds left in the game. Sumner in-bounded the ball and Caleb Williams took a shot that just missed sending Sumner to the next round. The Stingrays won the fourth quarter 19-10, but it was not enough to keep them from another tough loss to Newsome. The Sumner players acquitted themselves well, and instead of wilting, made the Wolves earn their win. Josiah Harding closed a strong senior season with 21 points and Caleb Williams added 17 points for the Stingrays.
Sumner athletics now turns its attention to Stingray Baseball, Softball and Flag-Football for the spring sports season. Stingray baseball opens its 2023 season at King HS on Monday, just before this issue went to press, and opens at home on Fri., Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. vs. Bloomingdale.
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