After 11 straight wins, a District 1 title and two victories in the WIAA 3A Boys State Basketball Tournament, the Mountlake Terrace Hawks were beginning to think a spot in the 3A state championship game could actually come to fruition. But a strong team from Spokane quickly put an end to those thoughts Thursday afternoon.
Terrace’s hopes of playing for a state title later this week were dashed as the Hawks lost to the Mt. Spokane Wildcats 70-45 in a 3A boys tourney quarterfinal game played at the Tacoma Dome.
The loss drops the Hawks into the consolation bracket of the Hardwood Classic, ending any chance of advancing to the tourney’s championship game on Saturday night. Terrace can still compete for a fourth-place trophy at the state tournament Saturday morning but must first earn a victory over the Gig Harbor Tides in an elimination contest Friday morning at 10:30 a.m.
The letdown felt by Hawk players and coaches after Thursday’s loss to Mt. Spokane was not only a result of being knocked out of state championship possibilities but also with the way the team stumbled, being outplayed by the Wildcats in nearly all aspects of the game.
“Obviously there’s disappointment,” said Terrace Coach Nalin Sood. “There’s disappointment that we didn’t defend that better. Giving up 70 points, giving up 58 (points) in the paint … you’re going to have a zero winning percentage if that’s the stat that you’re looking at. So they won the rebounding, they won the points in the paint.”
Mt. Spokane grabbed 34 rebounds in the game; Terrace numbered 20. The Wildcats outscored the Hawks 58-22 from shots in the lane.
Terrace, the No. 9 seed in the state tourney, held a 6-4 lead over the Wildcats two minutes into the game but then the wheels fell off. Mt. Spokane closed out the first quarter on a 14-0 run, fueled primarily by getting deep in the lane for short jumpers and easy lay-ins.
Down 18-6, the Hawks made a run of their own to start the second quarter, closing the gap to 20-15 on a bucket by senior Vito Mkrtychan. But the Wildcats responded with another 14-0 run, putting aside any notion that Terrace could be competitive with the Spokane team on Thursday.
Mt. Spokane, the No. 7 seed in the tourney, continued to pour it on and built its lead to 29 points, 49-20, at the 3:19 mark of the third quarter after another lay-in by Kamalu-Vargas; the Wildcats then coasted to the victory.
Sood was conciliatory after the contest, noting the skill level and ability of the Mt. Spokane team.
“They’re pretty quick off the dribble, and I thought they executed their stuff well,” Sood said. “And I thought their guards were pretty long and athletic to get to the basket. You’ve got to be on top of your game to defend that stuff and we weren’t tonight. We were a step slow; we just weren’t there when we needed to be. We’re pretty good at keeping guys out of the paint; we’re pretty good with our stout defense that leads to our offense. We weren’t tonight for some reason and part of it is (that) not everything is (on) us – we’ve got to give them credit sometimes also for what they do.”
“They’re not a bad matchup for us — they’re just a good basketball team,” he added.
Even in the second quarter when his squad pulled to within five points of the Wildcats, Sood recognized that things were amiss.
“We just never got our footing,” he said. “We never got the stoppers we wanted to get; never got key rebounds. We just had some breakdowns where they got a couple baskets — and they got high-percentage baskets inside the paint.”
Four Wildcats reached double figures in scoring in the game: Xavier Kamalu-Vargas led the team with 16 points, David Roe contributed 12, Maverick Sanders added 11 and Ryan Lafferty scored 10.
The 70 points yielded by the Hawks matched their second-highest yielded to an opponent this year (Arlington scored 70 against Terrace on Dec. 10, 2021; Kamiak totaled 71 against the Hawks in the season opener on Dec. 8).
On the offensive end of the court, Terrace couldn’t do much better; the 45 points scored by the team was the Hawks’ lowest output of the season.
Sophomore Javeon Jones led Terrace in scoring Thursday with 16 points; senior Jeffrey Anyimah scored 11 for the Hawks.
Despite the loss, Sood tried to remain positive after the game.
“The kids are more disappointed than I am right now,” Sood said. “I’m disappointed, obviously, but I’m not disappointed with these kids by any means. I wish we had had a better effort but I look forward to going and coaching them tomorrow and see if we can still get to Saturday; that would be outstanding.”
“I love coaching these guys; that’s it,” Sood concluded. “I love coaching these guys. I don’t like coaching a game like that; nobody does and we’re not used to doing that. But I love coaching these guys. It is disappointing because you always have a goal of a state championship but there’s still a lot of our eight goals we have for the season; there’s still (our) goal to be playing on Saturday.”
In other 3A boys’ state tourney results on Thursday, No. 2-seeded Auburn defeated No. 1 seed and previously undefeated Garfield 64-60 in overtime, No. 4 seed Rainier Beach slipped by No. 6 seed Gig Harbor 65-60 and No. 5 seed Seattle Prep beat No. 14 seed Eastside Catholic. In each matchup, the victors came from behind in the second half of their games to claim the win.
To view the entire WIAA 3A Boys State Basketball Tournament bracket, click www.wpanetwork.com/wiaa/brackets/tournament.php?act=view&tournament_id=3466.
Prep Boys Basketball: Mountlake Terrace vs. Mt. Spokane, March 3 (WIAA 3A Boys State Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game)
Terrace 6 11 10 18 — 45
Mt. Spokane 18 16 22 14 — 70
Mountlake Terrace individual scoring: Zaveon Jones 16, Jeffrey Anyimah 11, Vito Mkrtychyan 7, Jaxon Dubiel 7, Chris Meegan 2, Don Brown 2, Adison Mattix, Tigran Mkrtychan, Emmanuel Jorga, Andrew Delgadillo, Mason Towne
Mt. Spokane individual scoring: Xavier Kamalu-Vargas 16, David Roe 12, Maverick Sanders 11, Ryan Lafferty 10, Andrew Rayment 7, Zach Travis 6, Chapel Smith 5, Sam Davidson 3, Aiden Prado, Trey Williams
Records: Mountlake Terrace 19-3; Mt. Spokane 22-5Mountlake Terrace next game: versus Gig Harbor; Friday, Mar. 4; 10:30 a.m. at the Tacoma Dome (WIAA 3A Boys State Tournament elimination game)
— Story and photos by Doug Petrowski
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