March 6, 2013

Haymond has spectacular season, falls just short of state championship







After last weekend's performance in the Washington High School Basketball 4A State Finals, Western Michigan verbal commit Tucker Haymond earned a spot on the KINGCO 4A First Team and the Washington 4A All-Tournament Team. But neither achievement was necessarily what Haymond ultimately had in mind. Haymond was hungry for one thing and one thing only; a state championship.

Haymond's team, Garfield, entered the tournament ranked first in the state, having gone 23-1 during the regular season and undefeated in league play. Garfield would go on to defeat third-ranked Bothell 62-50 in the 4A state quarterfinals, knocking out the area's leading scorer and UCLA commit Zach LaVine. Haymond had 19 points and 9 rebounds in the win.

It was sixth-ranked Curtis, that eventually tripped up Haymond and the Bulldogs 70-66 (OT) with a come-from-behind victory in the state semifinals. It was then that Haymond was overcome with emotion, as the Seattle Times captured this photo (left) with Garfield head coach Ed Haskins.

"That was right when the buzzer sounded," recalled Haymond. "Once the buzzer sounded it was kind of unreal. I've been working forever to [win a state championship]. I could barely stand up."

Garfield regrouped to defeat Arlington 80-68 and take third place in the state tournament, finishing the season 25-2 overall. Haymond finished the game with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

"I'm definitely not happy with third," said Haymond. "I'm happy we finished as high as we could but I feel like we could've finished higher so that's going to eat at me for a little bit."

"I've talked to Will Conroy -- who used to play for UW, played in the NBA's D-League, and now he's with the Minnesota Timberwolves -- he said that he didn't win a state championship and that's the one thing he wishes he could go back and do. Even though he's a professional athlete, he always wishes he could have won state."

"I talked to Brandon Roy and he says the same thing. He told me, 'I've been an All-Star but it's nothing like winning the state championship in high school.'"

Haymond was face-guarded, double-teamed, trapped, and was essentially the central focus of every opponent's game plan throughout the regular season and the state tournament.

"Every game this whole season I've been face-guarded," explained Haymond with a bit of frustration. "Right when I step over half-court there's someone in my grill. Teams have used box-and-one on me and have been double-teaming me when I have the ball below the free throw line. So basically the game plan is to keep the ball out of my hands all the time."

Despite the constant attention he drew, Haymond still finished his senior season averaging approximately 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block per game. Overall, he finishes his tenure at Garfield scoring 1,412 career points, with a career record of 86-19.

"I'll never forget this state tournament because I think it shows how much I really love the game," said Haymond.

"When things were going good, I was really showing my emotions. And when things got bad, I was also showing my emotions. The [photographer] at the Seattle Times asked me if it was okay that he took that picture. I said, 'It doesn't bother me that you took that picture and posted that. I have no shame in showing my emotions for something that I really love to do.'"

"I can now honestly say I put my blood, sweat, and tears into this game. It hurts that we lost but we had a great season. Obviously we want to win, but at the same time we had a really great year."

Within a matter of days after the state tournament, Haymond also found out that he was selected to play in the 2013 WIBCA All-Star Game presented by Adidas and Cloud 9 Sports. The game has been held annually for several decades and has included prestigious names such as John Stockton, Jason Terry, Luke Ridnour, Aaron Brooks, Nate Robinson. Brandon Roy, and many others.

Only ten senior student-athletes from around the state are invited to represent each school classification. This year's event will be held at Curtis High School on Saturday, March 16th. And don't think there won't be a little extra motivation there for Haymond to perform well considering the location.

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Stay tuned for part two of our interview with 2013 WMU basketball commit Tucker Haymond later this week.

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