After losing their final two games of the regular season, the Mountlake Terrace High School boys basketball team looked as though their bad fortune would continue into the postseason Tuesday night as the Hawks found themselves down by four points at halftime of their District 1 tournament opener. But the team regrouped in the locker room and resolved to step up their defensive pressure against the visiting Ferndale Golden Eagles in the second half.
The squad’s locker room commitment turned into a basketball court reality as the Hawks held Ferndale to 14 second half points – just two in the third quarter – and they ran away with a 70-46 victory at Mountlake Terrace High School.
The win propels Terrace into a second round district match-up with the undefeated and No. 2 state-ranked Stanwood Spartans Friday night, Feb. 14, at Jackson High School in Mill Creek. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.
Hawk Loren Lacasse led the team with 17 points, including back-to-back three-pointers during the final 1:09 of the third quarter that pushed the Terrace lead to 13 points and seemed to take away any fight Ferndale had left in them. But it was the team’s defensive effort that Lacasse wanted to talk about following the game.
“We weren’t playing the defensive game that we wanted to play at the beginning, so Coach (Nalin Sood) talked to us at the half and made sure we were tough on the defensive end, and that really helped us, because our goal was to keep them under 52 (points), and we did,” Lacasse said.
Sood explained that his team’s defensive turnaround after half wasn’t due to any coaches’ change in strategy, but instead came about because of “great will, great desire and commitment.”
“The adjustment was the kids playing harder and their will to win,” he stated.
Sood called the postseason victory “huge” after the team struggled last week. “You always want to, in the regular season, play good basketball. And when you’re not playing well, just survive. We survived,” Sood explained. “We got a home playoff game; we survived even though we weren’t playing great. But when you get to the playoffs you find a way to get the ‘W’ and keep moving to the right.”
For Terrace, a move to the right means staying away from the loser’s bracket in the District 1 3A double-elimination tournament. A win on Friday over Stanwood would put them into the district championship game on Feb. 21 guarantee the Hawks a regional game on either Feb. 28 or March 1.
In other District 1 tourney games on Tuesday, Stanwood held off Shorewood 77-61, Shorecrest defeated Everett 68-60, and in a huge upset Marysville-Pilchuck, with a record of 8-11 coming into the tournament, crushed Glacier Peak 70-49 at Glacier Peak High School. The No. 1 South seed Grizzlies must now face No. 2 North seed Everett in a loser-out game on Thursday. You can see the complete District 1 bracket here.
MTHS Boys Basketball vs. Ferndale, Feb. 11
Ferndale 17 15 2 12 — 46
Terrace 15 13 18 24 — 70
MTHS individual scoring: Loren Lacasse 17; Greg Bowman 15; Derek Anyimah 12; Gabe Altenberger 9; Yoel Tekle 6; Isaiah Green 5; Prescott Day 3; Yonnas Tewold 3; Matthew Moisant; Shimron Masih
Ferndale individual scoring: Austin Honeycutt 11; Daniel Riley 11; John Weg 8; Dante Kelly 5; Dane Larsen 5; Carson Genger 2; Kier Munzanreder 2; Brad Shearer 2
MTHS next game: versus Stanwood, Friday, Feb. 14, 8 p.m. at Jackson High School
— By Doug Petrowski