The much-anticipated match-up between the No. 9-ranked Mountlake Terrace Hawks and the No. 6-ranked Stanwood Spartans Friday night lived up to its billing, with intense play, 15 lead changes, and a wild, frantic finish. It was everything that Stanwood Coach Zach Ward had wanted, right down to the final result, as the Spartans escaped from the Mountlake Terrace High School gymnasium with a 63-61 victory over the Hawks to remain unbeaten in the 2013-2014 season.
“We needed to be in an atmosphere where we were, maybe, the underdog a little bit – at least even – and to be tested, and face some adversity,” Ward said.
Stanwood was in for a battle as they trailed at halftime 34-31, the first time the team has been down at the break this year. Terrace was able to build the small lead behind big first-half performances of seniors Greg Bowman and Loren Lacasse as the two co-captains scored 30 of the team’s 34 first half points.
The second half became a back-and-forth affair, with the two squads trading the lead 13 times. The Hawks were hoping for one more lead change in the final seconds when, down by two, Bowman attempted a three-point shot for the win; the ball clanked off the rim, then two more short shots by Terrace teammates missed the mark and Stanwood secured the victory.
“With 4.9 seconds to go if you’re going to get an open shot, you’re going to get it,” Hawk Coach Nalin Sood said. “And Greg Bowman, to shoot a three-pointer for the game, I’ll put my job on that any day of the week.”
The Hawks were only able to have a shot at the lead after the fourth-quarter heroics of guards Isaiah Green and Prescott Day. Down 60-55, Green hit a three-pointer with 2:12 left in the game. Then after a lay-in by Stanwood’s Drew Stang, Day drained a three-pointer with 38 seconds left. But it wouldn’t be enough following Bowman’s final miss as the Hawks lost just their third game of the season.
The Spartans were able to slow down Bowman and Lacasse in the second half after a change in their defensive strategy. “We tried to make them put the ball on the floor and chase down the shooters,” Ward explained. The plan worked as Lacasse was held to just seven points in the second half and Bowman only scored one point in the decisive fourth quarter.
While Bowman scored 24 points for the game and Lacasse added 23, it was the Spartans’ Josh Thayer who led all scorers with 27 points. “He’s a good player,” Sood said of Thayer. “He was a good player last year and he’s one of those unique kids that’s gotten better and hasn’t plateaued. He’s got a good game to him and he had some confidence going.”
Ward was impressed with the overall play of everyone on the court Friday night. “I think you saw two really good teams tonight,” he said. “When it’s all said and done, you saw two competitive, skilled teams playing a high school game tonight. “
MTHS Boys Basketball vs. Stanwood, Jan. 17
Stanwood 20 11 12 20 — 63
Terrace 17 17 13 14 — 61
MTHS individual scoring: Greg Bowman 24; Loren Lacasse 23; Isaiah Green 5; Prescott Day 5; Matthew Moisant 2; Yonnes Tewolde 2; Yoel Tekle; Gabe Altenburger
Stanwood individual scoring: Josh Thayer 27; Drew Stang 16; Ian Zipp 12; Skout Roberson 4; Brady Garcea 4; AJ Martinka; Karsten Chaplik
Records: Mountlake Terrace 5-2 in league play, 10-3 overall; Stanwood 7-0, 14-0
MTHS next game: versus Central Catholic (Portland), Monday, Jan. 20, 3:30 p.m., at Showare Center in Kent (the game will be broadcast live on the Sound Live Sport Network)
— By Doug Petrowski