College Sports

Saints start off strong in hoops, thanks to Poole

Ten, nine, eight ...

The shot clock is clicking down. And Saint Martin’s is trying to get a pass inside to Blake Poole, the Saints’ junior forward. Seven, six, five ...

Finally, Poole grabs a lob pass, head fakes and muscles in a shot off the glass in the closing seconds. Two points. On a young Saint Martin’s team with five freshmen, Poole has been at times the first, second and third option as the shot clock winds down. He’s been the Saintly Solution.

Poole scored 55 points in two games last week, with Saint Martin’s splitting a pair of games in a tournament in Phoenix. He’s the Great Northwest Athletic Conference player of the week and the Saints’ go-to scorer.

“The thing I like most about Blake is he comes to play every game,” Saints coach Keith Cooper said. “It doesn’t matter who we play. He always plays hard. He’s a difficult matchup.”

At 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds, Poole is a mix of speed and power. Last week, he shot 70 percent from the field in two games (21-for-30). He grabbed 32 rebounds, giving him his second and third double-double of the season.

“He’s a hard guy to stop,” Cooper said. “He’s got really good hands, good feet. He’s surprisingly fast for a guy his size.”

But with four seniors graduating off last year’s team that went 22-8, someone had to pick up the scoring slack. There was 39.4 points to cover with the loss of Jake Linton (23.0) and Bill Richardson (16.4), the Saints’ top two scorers last season.

“He’s had to score more points and, if possible, get more rebounds,” Cooper said. “We’re looking for him more.”

But it’s not as though Poole reinvented himself, suddenly becoming a go-to scorer. He averaged 15.1 points his sophomore season. He also led the conference in rebounds (10.6) and was second in steals (1.5).

“Blake is a competitor on both ends of the court,” Cooper said.

Poole has been economical and efficient with his shot attempts. He’s averaging 11.9 shots per game, yet he’s averaging 22.0 points. That’s because he’s shooting 67.5 percent.

Poole leads the Saints in scoring (22.0), field goal percentage (67.5), field goals made per game (7.6), steals (1.6), rebounds (11.7) and assists (3.9). He’s a big reason why the Saints are off to a 6-1 start, one of the best starts in school history. SMU hosts Corban College at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“I’m not surprised,” Cooper said about his team’s red-hot start. “ ‘Pleased’ would be a better word. We’re just trying to get better with every game.”

While Poole has been the Saints’ primary scorer, he’s not their only scorer. Four Saints are averaging in double figures. Jared Howard (12.8), Jeremy Green (11.7) and Galen Squiers (11.0) are helping to share the scoring load.

“Other guys are starting to feel more comfortable,” Cooper said. “We’re not just waiting for Blake to shoot.”

Top gun

Donald Terry hasn’t lost his knack for popping 3-pointers.

But now, Terry, a sophomore guard at South Puget Sound and a River Ridge graduate, is a passer and a defender, too.

“He’s a complete player now,” SPSCC coach Marc Callero said. “In high school, he was more of a 3-pointer shooter. Now, he can do it all.”

Terry sank six 3-pointers and finished with a season-high 28 points in the Clippers’ 90-77 win against Edmonds last week.

The Clippers improved to 4-1.

“Donald played excellent,” Callero said.

Terry is one three former River Ridge players on the team. He’s joined by Amir Dunn and Chuck Lewis. Will Sharp, a North Thurston grad, also is on the team.

Helping hands

Derrick Pringle wanted to help.

So, the women’s basketball coach at Grays Harbor College asked his college team and an Olympia-based youth team he coaches to help gather donations for the Union Gospel Mission in Aberdeen.

Jonathan Lathrop, a 15-year-old boy from Tumwater and a player on Pringle’s Team 3:16, went beyond expectations. Rather than one donation, Lathrop has gathered food, blankets and clothes for three months.

“How many kids who are 15 would take something like this on like that?” Pringle said. “He took it to a whole different level. He’s the first one to say, ‘I’m on it.’ And he’s not stopped.”

Scoring king

Nate Menefee got the record but not the win.

The first-team All-American guard scored 26 points Friday to become Evergreen State College’s all-time leading scorer but Eastern Oregon won the game, 74-65.

Playing with the flu, Menefee, who was averaging 30.5 points per game coming into the weekend, scored six points on 2-for-13 shooting in a 72-53 loss to College of Idaho on Saturday.

Menefee, a three-year starter, has 1,715 points, breaking the record of 1,704 by Trelton Spencer.

Gail Wood: 360-754-5432