With a berth to the 2A Hardwood Classic at the Yakima Dome already secured, the Mountlake Terrace Hawks got to see where they measure up against the top 2A team in the state — the Lynden Lions — free from worries of a season-ending loss.
Terrace, for the second time in 11 days, stood toe-to-toe with the Lions and, for the second time, ended the standoff a few points — and a few inches — short.
Lynden, the two-time defending 2A state champions and No. 1 seed in this year’s 2A championship tournament, defeated the Hawks 59-55 in a WIAA 3A Regional Playoff game played Saturday at Mount Vernon High School.
The victory was the second for the Lions over Terrace this postseason; Lynden beat the Hawks 58-49 in a District 1 2A Boys Basketball Tournament contest played on Feb. 18.
The Lions were boosted Saturday by 6-foot-11 post player Liam Hanenburg, who scored a game-high 21 points and was a big problem — literally — for the Hawks. Lynden, led by the dominating inside presence of Hanenburg, out-rebounded Terrace 42-12, grabbed a head-spinning 20 offensive rebounds and controlled the lane throughout the matchup.
Terrace Coach Nalin Sood admitted his squad was outplayed down low near the hoop.
“We’ve got to clean up the rebounding,” Sood said. “I think it’s one of the keys to be successful in the postseason. I don’t have all the answers, but you’ve got to be able to rebound better. And they beat us bad on the boards.”
Despite Lynden’s command in the paint, Terrace looked good early by running out to a 27-18 advantage five minutes before halftime. But the Lions closed out the second quarter on a 14-0 run to grab the lead at the break, 32-27.
Sood took the blame for the Hawks’ late-second-quarter letdown.
“I should have called a timeout,” Sood said. “I thought about it later on, but at this point I want the guys to know we trust them and they’ll figure a way out. But it’s my job to have better leadership there.”
Building upon their late first-half surge, Lynden expanded its lead to 39-29 just after the midpoint of the third quarter. The Hawks responded, pulling back to within a point twice in the fourth. But the Lions were able to hold off Terrace with some timely offensive rebounds, putback buckets and just enough converted free throws (4-for-8 in the final 2:38) to earn the win.
“They’re a good team, they’re a disciplined team, they’re a very well-coached team,” Sood said of the Lions. “You put that together, you can’t have a lot of errors to win a basketball game (against them).”
Only five Lions scored in the contest; in addition to Hanenburg’s effort, Brock Heppner contributed 14 points while Jordan Medcalf added 11 points.
Jeffrey Anyimah came off the bench to lead Terrace in scoring with 13 points; Robbie Baringer tallied 10 points.
Terrace will next be preparing for 2A Hardwood Classic play starting on Wednesday, March 4. The No. 8-seeded Hawks will face the No. 9 seed Black Hills Wolves in a state tourney loser-out contest in the Yakima Dome at 9 p.m.
If the Hawks win on Wednesday, they will enter the double-elimination portion of the Hardwood Classic and will be guaranteed games in the Yakima Dome on Thursday and Friday. If Terrace wins three games in three days, the team will play for the 2A state championship on Saturday.
“It’s disappointing; there’s nothing positive about losing,” Sood concluded about the loss to Lynden. “But we’ve got to be positive and look forward … At 8:59 next Wednesday night we won’t be thinking about the Lynden loss; we’ll be thinking about Black Hills.”
You can view the entire WIAA 2A Boys Basketball Regional Playoff and State Championship (Hardwood Classic) brackets here.
Prep Boys Basketball: Mountlake Terrace vs. Lynden, Feb. 29 (WIAA 2A Boys Basketball Regional Playoff game – both to 2A Hardwood Classic)
Terrace 16 11 12 16 — 55
Lynden 14 18 11 16 — 59
Mountlake Terrace individual scoring: Jeffrey Anyimah 13, Robbie Baringer 10, Muhammed Kinteh 9, Jace Breakfield 8, Bradey Blackmer 7, Trazz Pepper 6, Mason Christianson 2, Vitaly Mkrtychyan
Lynden individual scoring: Liam Hanenburg 21, Brock Heppner 14, Jordan Medcalf 11, Koby Whitman 6, Kaleo Jandoc 5, Clay Kochuten, Harley Vandenberg, Elijah Lyons, Jordan Elsner
Records: Mountlake Terrace 18-7 overall; Lynden 22-2 overall
Mountlake Terrace next game: versus Black Hills; Wednesday, March 4; 9 p.m. at the Yakima Dome (WIAA 2A Boys Basketball Hardwood Classic loser-out game)
— By Doug Petrowski