While the Mountlake Terrace Hawks get most of the attention from basketball fans in town, there’s another school looking for their lions’ share of the spotlight.
Cedar Park Christian – MLT begins postseason play on Saturday, Feb. 2, in their quest for the limelight, and a spot in the WIAA 1B state boys basketball tournament later this month. The Lions open the 1B Northwest District Tournament against the Lopez Lobos (3-9, 5-11) at 5 p.m. at their home gym, 23607-54th Ave. W. in Mountlake Terrace.
The Lions, under the supervision of head coach Pat Russell, finished the 2012-2013 regular season 5-2 in the Northwest 1A/2B League, 18-2 overall. Their only losses were to league champion 1A Friday Harbor and the state’s third-ranked 2B squad, LaConner.
A highlight of the Lions’ season was devouring the competition at a four-day tourney in Santa Ana, California, last December. Cedar Park Christian – MLT won the Bethel Christmas Tournament by beating four other teams by an average of more than 24 points per game.
Senior Terry Eun leads the Lions in scoring, averaging 16.8 points a game. The sharp-shooting guard hit for a season-high 33 points in the squad’s victory over Mount Vernon Christian on Thursday.
Eun and the rest of the Lions have benefitted from a fast-paced, high-scoring team strategy that Russell instituted last spring after watching rival 1B powerhouses Lummi Nation, Tulalip and Neah Bay have success with similar uptempo play. “That’s the style they play, and they will wear out opponents in district tournaments,” Russell said.
The Lummi Nation Blackhawks (12-2) are ranked number 5 in the latest AP state 1B boys basketball poll, and are the top-seeded team in the Northwest District Tournament. Cedar Park Christian could face the Blackhawks in the district championship game on Feb. 8 if both teams advance that far. Lummi Nation opens the tourney at home against Highland Christian. Other Northwest District matchups are Shoreline Christian at Tulalip Heritage and Grace Academy at Mount Vernon Christian.
Russell understands the importance of starting out well in district play, and not just to stave off elimination or to set a tone for the entire postseason. “If you win the first two games, you get a bye, then a home game, at Tri-Districts,” he explained.
The top five teams from the district tourney advance to the 1/2/3 Tri-District Tournament set to begin on Feb. 9. The state 1B tourney opens Feb. 28 in Spokane.