Before this season started, MTHS boys basketball coach Nalin Sood knew he would be challenged to fill holes in his lineup after three starters from last year’s fourth-place-in-state team graduated. Greg Bowman and Loren Lacasse, talented holdovers from last year, aren’t going to be able to shoulder the load themselves on this year’s squad, so the question is, who will step up and help the Hawks as they make a run for a third straight state tournament berth.
Just five games into this year’s season, the supporting cast for the Mountlake Terrace Hawks is starting to take shape.
Bowman and Lacasse are team co-captains, potential all-league candidates, and leaders on the team score sheet. But Sood knows the success or failure of the team will hinge on the performances of six Hawks getting significant minutes on the court so far this year: Isaiah Green, Prescott Day, Yoel Tekle, Matthew Moisant, Gabe Altenberger and Yonnas Tewolde.
Sood has tinkered with the starting lineup in each of the five Hawk games this season, with Bowman and Lacasse being joined at the opening tip by a different combination of players. The early season experimenting is paying off as each of the newcomers are learning what it takes to be a starter and how to contribute by coming off the bench.
“It’s important that our kids know their roles, and if Isaiah, Prescott, Matthew Moisant, Gabe, if all those guys can realize that their role is to take care of the basketball, find guys, and make shots, that will be key,” Sood said. “And an X-factor for us is Yoel.”
Tekle is the most experienced of the group, as the 6-6 senior some played some last year. “He’s bulked up a little bit; he’s been working, I think, fairly hard,” Sood admitted. “He’ll be a guy that will really contribute too. He’s an effective low-post player.”
Altenberger, while just a sophomore, is expected to get plenty of playing time for Terrace this year. “He’s got a lot of games under his belt in terms of AAU, non-scholastic sports,” Sood explained. “Gabe’s a competitor, he’s a basketball player, and sophomores just go out there and play. You know, you’ve got two years (ahead), there’s no pressure on you. Go out there and let it go. Our practices are pretty intense, and he does a great job of stepping up to the challenge night after night.”
The biggest change for the Hawks this year comes in the back court with the additions of juniors Green and Day. Green is averaging 6.6 points per game and is pleasing the coaching staff with his passing and ball handling efforts. Day, while somewhat inexperienced, is a player that Sood has high hopes for as the season progresses.
“He’s a different look; in the past we’ve had, maybe, a little bit quicker and more longer guard, but he’s a basketball player,” Sood said about Day. Because of his tenacity, some have likened Day to a bulldog out on the court.
After missing the Hawks’ opening game of the season on Dec. 3, Moisant has jumped in and found his shooting touch, averaging 7.3 points per game. The younger brother of two former Terrace players, Moisant comes from a family rich in basketball knowledge.
Senior guard Tewolde is being counted on to help in the back court, and has seen some playing time this season specifically when some of his teammates have gotten into foul trouble.
The Hawks (4-1) will be coming off a six-day break from game action when they head to Shorewood on Friday, Dec. 20, for a 7:15 p.m. match-up against the undefeated T-Birds (5-0). The winner will assume first place in the Wesco 3A South Conference.