While students at Mountlake Terrace High School are on an extended winter break from schoolwork right now, the student athletes of the Hawks’ boys basketball team didn’t enjoy any rest on Wednesday. The Hawks were pushed on the basketball court by the visiting West Valley Rams from Yakima, but the effort of the Mountlake Terrace bench and some nearly-perfect foul shooting allowed Mountlake Terrace to just pass that test.
The Hawks slipped by the Rams 71-68 in a non-league clash played at Mountlake Terrace High School.
In a contest that featured 13 lead changes, Terrace grabbed the advantage on a Max Hull lay-in with 3:37 to go in the game, making it 60-59. The Hawks extended their lead to 67-63 on a Branden Hayes 3-pointer with 58 seconds to go before Keegan Grayson-Zehrung went 4-for-4 from the foul line in the final 30 seconds to secure the victory.
“(We) got tested for 32 minutes — it could have gone either way,” said Terrace Coach Nalin Sood. “You always play a game for 32 minutes, but sometimes if you have a (big) lead it’s either cruise-control or the kids know they’re going to be successful. By no means that was the case today.”-
West Valley had slim, one-point leads at the end of the first quarter and at halftime, and provided the Hawks a big challenge in defending around the perimeter throughout the tilt. The Rams shot 10-for-22 (45.5 percent) from behind the 3-point arc, including a 3-pointer by Malachy Caffrey with 12.5 seconds to go, to pull West Valley within one point at 69-68.
After Grayson-Zehrung sank his final two free throws with 10.3 seconds to go, Caffrey had one last chance to tie the game and send it to overtime, but his long 3-point attempt in the final second missed the mark.
“I wish we’d defend a little better; they made some tough shots, but what we did on the other side is to go make some free throws,” Sood said.
As a team, the Hawks shot 13-for-14 (92.9 percent) from the free throw line compared to the Rams’ 5-for-10 (50 percent).
Terrace was led in scoring by Khyree Armstead with 20 points. For the second straight game Armstead came off the bench for the Hawks, something Sood says is a result of the competition on the team for starting roles.
“We keep everything in practice competitive because we have a lot of depth,” Sood stated. “We’ve got enough moving parts and we have depth and we have competition, so guys have to go out and earn it every single day.”
Mason Christianson added 13 points while Brendan Hayes chipped in 12 points for the Hawk victory.
The Rams’ Dallin Cluff led all scorers with 23 points; Isaac McDonald scored 15 points with Caffrey added 11 points.
With the win, Terrace elevated their overall record to 7-1 and could gain a spot or two in the WIAA 2A RPI rankings; the Hawks sat at no.12 on Wednesday.
With two-thirds of the season still ahead of them, there is still plenty of time for the team to improve its play before a postseason that team members hope will include a trip to the WIAA 2A state tournament.
“We’ve got a lot of things to get better at and in some ways that’s exciting because this team can get better,” Sood concluded. “And if we get better, who knows.”
Prep Boys Basketball: West Valley (Yakima) at Mountlake Terrace, Dec. 20
West Valley 18 16 12 22 — 68
Terrace 17 16 16 22 — 71
Mountlake Terrace scoring: Khyree Armstead 20, Mason Christianson 13, Brendan Hayes 12, Keegan Grayson-Zehrung 9, Connor Williams 8, Mason Petersen 5, Max Hull 4
West Valley scoring: Dallin Cluff 23, Isaac McDonald 15, Malachy Caffrey 11, Spencer Bailey 8, Trey Funk 7, Alex Rojas 2, Logan Kinloch 2, Spencer Jolley, Jack Vandebrake
Records: Mountlake Terrace 2-1 in 2A/3A Wesco League, 7-1 overall; West Valley 1-2 in 4A Columbia Basin Big 9 Conference, 4-4 overall
Mountlake Terrace next game: versus Auburn Mountainview, Thursday, Dec. 28, 7:30 p.m. at Mountlake Terrace High School
— By Doug Petrowski