Coming off a 38-point defeat – their worst of the season – and missing two starters due to injuries, the Mountlake Terrace Hawks limped into Meadowdale High School for a Wesco 3A South boys basketball matchup with the Mavericks Tuesday night.
And while the Hawks struggled to put points on the scoreboard for three quarters, the team battled on defense, took advantage of fourth quarter opportunities from the foul line and came away with a surprising 38-35 victory.
Mountlake Terrace had lost seven of their previous eight games, but with the victory over Meadowdale lifted their overall record to 4-8, 2-3 in the Wesco 3A South. The Mavericks had hoped to climb back above .500 for the season, but instead fell to 6-7, 2-4 in league play.
The Hawks could only muster 17 points after the first three quarters, yet found themselves down by only four, 21-17, going in the fourth. In those final eight minutes Terrace turned things around and exploded for 21 points to grab the win.
After shooting only 27 percent (6-for-22) in the first three periods, the Hawks found their touch in the fourth, going 5-for-6 from the field – including 3-point buckets by Ali Shah and Shimron Masih – and 11-for-15 from the foul line. Junior Gabe Altenberger converted eight of his 10 free throw attempts in the final quarter, six-for-eight in the final minute.
“I just had a lot of confidence,” Altenberger said of this fourth quarter trips to the foul line. “The coaches are really great about encouraging us players, so I had a lot of confidence for those free throws.”
Despite the Hawk’s strong charity line shooting, the Mavericks still had chances to get the win, or at least send the game to overtime. Trailing 37-33, Meadowdale pulled back to within two points with :10.2 seconds left after a Reid Wilson lay-in. Then after Altenberger converted one of two free throw attempts to push the Terrace lead to 38-35, Maverick Griffin Over got a clean look at a three-pointer, but missed everything. A scramble for the ball led to a Meadowdale throw-in with just :0.4 seconds left, no time to get away another good 3-point shot attempt.
Earlier in the fourth quarter Over had tallied the only successful Maverick 3-point shot; overall Meadowdale was 1-for-9 from beyond the 3-point arc and 16-for-48 (33.3 percent) from the field of the game.
Mountlake Terrace Coach Nalin Sood liked his team’s defensive effort, especially from his big men on the inside, Shimron Masih and Justin Hopkins. “Credit to Shimron; he’s becoming more and more of a presence,” Sood said. “He’s getting tougher. He’s getting his timing down to contest shots.”
Masih recorded two blocked shots in the game and forced the Mavericks to alter numerous inside shot attempts.
As for Hopkins, Sood admitted that he has been waiting for the senior to show some improvement. “Justin was better tonight. He was tougher; he rebounded. He was more aggressive,” Sood said. “And if we’re going to be a good team, we’ve got to start on the inside and be better there.”
Mountlake Terrace was without regular starters Ryan Lacasse and Derek Anyimah, both of whom were nursing injuries. Lacasse hurt his shoulder during the Hawk football season and is still trying to get back to full health. Anyimah suffered a contusion on his right knee during the Glacier Peak game on Jan. 6. It’s unknown if either will be available for Thursday’s game against Shorewood.
“We want to get them back. We believe in them. We know we’re better basketball team with them,” Sood said. “But we’re worrying, also, about the guys we’ve got and trying to get them prepared. And (when) those guys come back, we’re hopefully going to be even better.”
Meadowdale has a full week off before two big tilts next week, a trip to Edmonds-Woodway on Jan. 20 and a home match-up with 10-2 Glacier Peak on Jan. 23.
– By Doug Petrowski
Prep Boys Basketball: Mountlake Terrace at Meadowdale
Mountlake Terrace 2 6 9 21 — 38
Meadowdale 4 8 9 14 — 35
Mountlake Terrace individual scoring: Gabe Altenberger 13, Shimron Masih 11, Ali Shah 7, Justin Hopkins 6, Joey Gardner 1, Gabriel Powter, Daniel Johnson
Meadowdale individual scoring: Aidan O’Neill 9, Caleb Tingstad 7, Charlie White 6, Reid Wilson 5, Harrison White 3, Griffin Over 3, Nathan Heilpap 2, Malik Braxton, Chiagozie Ezeokeke
Records: Mountlake Terrace 2-3 in Wesco 3A, 4-8 overall; Meadowdale 2-4 in Wesco League, 6-7 overall
Mountlake Terrace next game: vs. Shorewood, Thursday, Jan. 15, 7:15 p.m. at Mountlake Terrace High School
Meadowdale next game: vs, Edmonds-Woodway, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 7:15 p.m. at Edmonds-Woodway High School