Toting a record of five wins in their past six outings, the Cedarcrest Red Wolves came into Mountlake Terrace High School Saturday with a little swagger in their step and confidence in their game.
After a slow start, the Hawks ultimately came out on top. The Hawks blew open a close game with a big second half performance and defeated Cedarcrest 59-37 in a District 1/2 2A Boys Basketball Tournament played at Mountlake Terrace High School.
After the Red Wolves held a one-point advantage at halftime 19-18, the two teams traded the lead six times before the Hawks took the lead for good 28-26 three minutes into the second half on a Brendan Hayes three-pointer, his second trey of the quarter. The junior added two dazzling assists to teammate Khyree Armstead and two blocks of Red Wolves’ shots to help Terrace pull out to a ten-point lead, 41-31, by the end of the third quarter.
Terrace would never look back for the runaway first-round district tourney victory.
Hayes, who appears to show little emotion out on the court, confessed to feeling caught up in the high of postseason tournament basketball in front of a frenzied MTHS Rowdy Rooters student fan section.
“I was excited, I was pumped,” Hayes admitted. “The atmosphere was really nice; it just pumped me up and made me feel really good.”
Terrace Coach Nalin Sood liked the way his 6-foot-3 forward played in his first postseason game for the Hawks.
“Brendan had a good game,” Sood said. “Hopefully, in some ways, he’s coming into his own. He’s got a full year of varsity basketball now under his belt – this is bonus time. Hopefully he can keep going here as we move along.”
Sood also noted how Hayes keeps his emotions in check while out on the basketball court.
“We want guys like that, that don’t get too high, don’t get too low. They just go play,” Sood explained. “And that’s what he’s doing right now. And that’s a credit to him that his level of maturation is that high.”
Sood was enthused with his squad’s overall play on Saturday, especially on the defensive end where the Hawks held Cedarcrest, the district tournament’s no. 6 seed, to their second-lowest point total of the season.
“That’s a credit to the kids and the job they did defensively,” Sood said. “That 37 (points), that commitment on defense probably gave (us) 10 points on offense at least.”
Terrace forced the Red Wolves into committing 17 turnovers in the game, with many in the second half being turned into fast breaks for the Hawks.
“Once we focused and committed to executing some offense … and a little better job in the second half of defending, that created some offensive opportunities for us,” Sood stated. “And if we can defend, rebound, then we have a chance to get some high percentage shots, which makes a difference.”
The Hawks were led in scoring by Armstead with 23 points, 12 of which came in a span when Terrace pushed their second half led from three points at 32-29 to 14 points at 45-31. Sean Kirk added 13 points for the Hawks.
Cedarcrest had just one player to reach double-figures in scoring, Cameron Hammontree with 19 points. Only four other Red Wolves’ contributed on the scoresheet: Jake Kirshenmann with nine points, Kyle Lupo with five, Brayden Stauffer with two, and Pascal Nagata with two.
With the victory, the Hawks, the tourney’s no. 3 seed, will move into one of the district’s semi-final games on Tuesday, Feb. 14, when they face Bellingham at Mount Vernon High School; tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.
To view the entire District 1/2 2A Boys Basketball Tournament bracket, click http://www.wescoathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=1959&sport=3.
While the stakes get higher with each tournament game they play, Sood believes his squad can keep their emotions fairly settled as the postseason continues on.
“These guys love playing basketball, and it’s just another chance to go play basketball,” Sood reflected. “I know it’s postseason … it’s just dialing them back down again, stay on top of the game, go play basketball and play to our strengths.”
“And if we do that,” Sood continued, “let the chips fall where they may, and let’s see how it ends up when it’s all said and done.”
Prep Boys Basketball: Cedarcrest at Mountlake Terrace, Feb. 11 (District 1/2 2A Boys Basketball Tournament first round game)
Cedarcrest 9 10 12 6 — 37
Terrace 11 7 23 18 — 59
Mountlake Terrace individual scoring: Khyree Armstead 23, Sean Kirk 13, Brock Davis 9, Brendan Hayes 8, Keegan Grayson 2, Connor Williams 2, Mason Christianson 2, Mason Petersen, Max Hull
Cedarcrest individual scoring: Cameron Hammontree 19, Jake Kirshenmann 9, Kyle Lupo 5, Brayden Stauffer 2, Pascal Nagata 2, Nathan McBride, Emmett Turner, Riley Mallot, Austin Towns, Aaron Davenport, Chris Busch
Records: Mountlake Terrace 12-9 overall; Cedarcrest 14-8 overall
Mountlake Terrace next game: versus Bellingham, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 6:00 p.m. at Mount Vernon High School (District 1/2 2A Boys Basketball Tournament semi-final game)