Tim Brown and his North Thurston High School basketball team talked about this all year — this group of Rams won’t be defined by one game.
Their season ended one game short of the Tacoma Dome on Saturday, in a 60-51 loss to Seattle Prep in the Class 3A state regionals at Tumwater High School.
Seattle Prep standout Nic Lynch, a 6-foot-11 center committed to Lehigh University, poured in a game-high 25 points, while Kalu Stricklin added 15.
But, the loss doesn’t speak to what a determined group of nine seniors did for North Thurston’s program the past four years.
“We didn’t even talk about the game,” Brown said following the loss. “We just talked about the season and how much these kids have meant to the program.
“They brought us out of the doldrums, so to speak, and lifted us to new heights.”
This group — paced by seniors Jeremy Spencer and Clay Christian, who both averaged more than 20 points per game entering Saturday — for one of the better runs in North Thurston’s history.
Earlier this season, the Rams (21-4) put together a 19-game winning streak to secure their first 3A South Sound Conference title.
They picked up early wins in the 3A West Central/Southwest bidsitrict tournament to qualify for regionals for the first time since 2012.
And they, on most nights, produced numbers on offense that went largely unmatched by their opponents.
“You’re going to be defined by your body of work, and these kids brought it all year long,” Brown said.
Brown consistently spoke this season of North Thurston’s improvements on defense, after finishing a game shy of the regionals when the core group were juniors.
This year, the group allowed more than 70 points in a game just once, often holding opponents to far less.
Brown spoke of his role players like point guard Gunner Nielsen (4.1 assists per game) and Aaron Stone (3.8 assists), who often got the Rams rolling.
And, of course, he spoke of his two star shooters in Spencer and Christian, who rattled in bucket after bucket during their careers.
Christian, North Thurston’s all-time leading scorer, leaves with 1,495 points in his career — including 1,095 the past two seasons — and a 15.9 points per game lifetime average.
Spencer, this year’s 3A SSC MVP, finishes with 1,073 points in three years.
“Two of those kids on the same team is unreal,” Brown said. “They’re unselfish, they’re efficient, and great teammates.”
Spencer scored 15 points in his finale against Seattle Prep, while Christian had nine. Tim Tenkley, a junior, led the Rams with 21 points.
The Rams stuck with the Panthers for much of the game, but Seattle Prep built its lead to double digits in the second half, and Lynch pushed in five baskets in the fourth quarter to hold North Thurston off.
“We didn’t play our best today, but I thought our kids played hard,” Brown said. “It’s tough when you have a 6-11 kid in there.
“We worked hard on him, did some nice things, and he still scored. That’s all you can ask for for a group of kids like these guys.”
NO. 7 SEATTLE PREP 14 11 11 24_60
NO. 8 NORTH THURSTON 9 14 7 21_51
SP – Kelly 3, Stricklin 15, Trifunovic 3, Woodward 7, Gale 4, Flor 3, Lynch 25
NT – Spencer 15, Nielsen 2, Stone 2, Tenkley 21, Christian 9, Ponder 2