'Sad' to see season end, OC's Gliko hits recruiting trail

Fifteen minutes after Olympic College had lost its Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges regular-season finale against Edmonds, coach Reece Gliko learned that Skagit Valley had defeated Whatcom, thereby ending the Rangers’ Cinderella story.

As disappointing as it was not to reach this the NWAACC Tournament, Gliko couldn’t be disappointed in OC’s 85-74 loss at Edmonds on Saturday, March 2.

“I was very happy with how we played,” he said. “I think it was a good representation of our whole year. Different guys stepped up at different times in the game and we found ourselves with a chance to win, but they got hot and hit some big shots at the end.”

The Rangers trailed 51-38 with 16:18 left, but as they have all season, they kept attacking. With six minutes left, OC had tied the game at 61. With 4:29 left, Drew Stenesen’s three-point play gave Olympic the lead, 68-67. Ken Waldo’s two free throws increased it 70-67.

That’s when Edmonds, which grabbed a share of the NWAACC North title with Shoreline, caught fire and the Rangers cooled off. Cabe Vander Yacht canned two straight threes and guard Josh McLeod scored eight of his 21 points down the stretch for Edmonds (11-5, 15-13 overall).

Fred Grupe (20 points, 7 rebounds), Waldo (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Caldwell (15 points) led the Rangers (8-8 NWAACC, 14-14), who finished a game back of Skagit Valley in the race for the fourth and final playoff spot.

“I’m very satisfied with (14-14),” said Gliko, despite watching his depth-shy club drop five of its last six games after surging into a tie for first place in early February. “My only regret would have been if there would have been a part of the season when we didn’t do our best and give it our best effort, but we always did. I’m proud of the guys.”

By Monday, Gliko was ready to hit the recruiting trail, but not before looking back at his first season.

“It’s been a great year for me,” said the Montana native. “I couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s beyond what I expected for a first-year experience. I’m sad to see it end for the guys that are going to move on. We can’t replace any of them.

“It’s going to be a whole different experience next year. Sometimes the danger is you’re going to duplicate it, but you don’t replace those guys,” he said, referring to sophomores Waldo, Caldwell, Stenesen and Robbie Bybee. “It can be special, but it’ll be different. I’m sad to see those guys go, that’s for sure.”

Waldo, Caldwell and Bybee are all being recruited by Northwest NAIA colleges, said Gliko.

Next year’s team returns Grupe, the 6-5 Texan who was averaging 21.1 points and 11.4 rebounds at last check, and quick guard Casey Manchester, the walk-on from Olympic High. Kevin Hudson and Maurice Hines, both academic casualties this season, are expected back. Hudson was OC’s sixth-man earlier at the beginning of the year. Another key reserve, Bremerton’s Angelo Jeanpierre, has another year of eligibility, but he might pursue educational opportunities at Seattle Pacific.

“We lose a lot, but I’m satisfied with the core base we have to build on,” Gliko said. “We’d like to be deeper next year.”

Gliko planned to take in this week’s state 4A basketball tournament in Tacoma.

Gliko also hopes to hire an assistant coach for next season. This year, he did it without one.

“That was the major drawback of not having an assistant,” he said of recruiting. “I couldn’t get out to as many games as I would have liked.”

Women finish 7-20

Forget the record (4-12 NWAACC North, 7-20 overall). The Olympic College women, beaten 76-39 by Edmonds in its season finale on Saturday, March 2, had a successful season.

Freshmen Leana Abille (13 points, 9 rebounds) and Beth Grams (8 points, 9 rebounds) led the Rangers against Edmonds.

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