Dating back to 1960, the history of Mountlake Terrace Hawks boys’ basketball is rich with success — and this year’s squad can now pen a new chapter.
The Hawks have earned a spot in the round of 12 at the WIAA 2A Boys State Basketball Tournament after a gritty 60-52 victory over the Clover Park Warriors Saturday at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
Terrace, the state tourney’s no.14-seed, will open play at the 2A Hardwood Classic at the Yakima Valley SunDome on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at 9 a.m. against the no.6-seeded North Kitsap Vikings.
Wednesday’s contest against North Kitsap is a loser-out game; a victory over the Vikings would propel the Hawks into the tournament’s quarterfinals on Thursday and guarantee the squad at least one more game on Friday.
This will be the first trip to a dome for the final week of the high school basketball calendar for the Hawks since the 2012-2013 season, when Terrace finished the year 23-4 and placed sixth in the 3A state tournament staged at the Tacoma Dome.
Now as a 2A school, Hawk Coach Nalin Sood recognized the significance of this year’s squad and what they have accomplished.
“These guys determine their own history for Terrace high school; they wrote their own story up to now and we get to go play another week. And that’s exciting,” Sood said.
Saturday’s tilt with Clover Park was also exciting as the game came down to the last minute of play. With Terrace up by four, 56-52, the Warriors’ Davien Harris-Williams leaned into Hawk defender Keegan Grayson and made a three-pointer with 22.9 seconds to go, but was called for an offensive foul and the points were not allowed.
Five second later, Grayson sunk two free throws to push the lead to 58-52 and help seal the victory for Terrace.
In total, and despite the nerves he was feeling, Grayson went 4-for-5 from the foul line in the game’s final minute. “I was rattled a little bit,” the junior said after the game, “but we practice (free throws) all the time. We are always shooting free throws.”
Grayson ended up with six points for the game (all in the fourth quarter), but it was his defensive effort – along with teammate Khyree Armstead – on the Warriors’ Harris-Williams that will be most remembered. The Clover Park junior guard scored 25 points, two above his season average, but only six points in the second half as the Hawks clamped down on defense.
“That was our main point of focus all week, guarding their number one,” Grayson explained. “We knew that he was going to try to shoot all the time and drive all the time; he just wanted to score. So we were prepared.”
Sood praised the defensive play of his squad against Harris-Williams after the game. “He’s a good player – you’re not going to stop him,” Sood state. “He’s a real good player. He’s averaging 23 points a game, he’s a tough guard, (so) you just want to make him work, work, work and see what will happen. Keegan did a tremendous job and Khyree (too), they didn’t give him anything easy.”
“Brock (Davis) and Sean (Kirk) deserve some credit also because they were able to help a lot,” Sood added.
On the offensive end of the court, Kirk led the Hawks with 17 points in the game; Davis scored 16 points and Armstead added 14 points for Terrace in the victory.
Saturday’s win could serve as a real confidence booster for the Hawks going into play at the SunDome next week, Sood said.
“These kids showed today what they can do when they believe in themselves,” he said. “I told them before the game that if they just keep their focus the right way, keep the right mentality, that’s when they’re at their best. And when they’re at their best, we have a lot of confidence in what they can do.”
The Hawks’ opponent in Yakima on Wednesday, North Kitsap, has lost just five of 24 games this season, was the 2A Olympic League regular season champions and the West Central District 2A Boys Basketball Tournament runner-up. But Sood wasn’t ready on Saturday to begin focusing on the Vikings just yet, instead pointing out the obvious going into the state round of 12.
“There’s only good teams left,” Sood said. “There’s only well-coached teams (and) great players left and we’re lucky to be a part of it.”
To view the entire WIAA 2A Boys State Basketball Tournament bracket, click http://www.wescoathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2111&sport_id=3.
Boys Prep Basketball: Mountlake Terrace vs. Clover Park, Feb. 25 (WIAA 2A Boys State Basketball Tournament regional game)
Mountlake Terrace 11 15 21 13 — 60
Clover Park 10 21 7 14 — 52
Mountlake Terrace individual scoring: Sean Kirk 17, Brock Davis 16, Khyree Armstead 14, Keegan Grayson 6, Brendan Hayes 3, Joey Gardner 2, Zeke Tomas 2, Mason Petersen, Max Hull
Clover Park individual scoring: Davien Harris-Williams 25, D.J. Kerson 7, Trejaan Harris 6, JonJon Sealey 5, Trevyon McDaniel 4, Anthony Grassi 3, James Anderson 2,
Records: Mountlake Terrace 14-10 overall; Clover Park 17-10 overall
Mountlake Terrace next game: versus North Kitsap, Wednesday, Mar. 1, 9 a.m. at the Yakima Valley SunDome (loser out game at WIAA 2A Boys State Basketball Tournament)
— By Doug Petrowski