Trailing by 20 points heading into the fourth quarter, the Vikings mounted a furious rally before finally falling 68-56 to Bothell in a 4A regional play-in game.
"We had dug ourselves such a big hole, which is kind of the frustrating part of that," Lake Stevens coach Mark Hein said. "But once again, these guys never say die. We've come back from that big of a deficit before."
The homecourt crowd, which had been silent for much of the previous two quarters, came to life in fourth, as did the Vikings defense. Midway through the quarter, Lake Stevens had cut the deficit in half. The Vikings continued to fight and Dakota Tomson scored to make the score 60-51 with a little under three minutes remaining in the game.
That's as close as the Vikings got. Lake Stevens failed to capitalize on a couple of opportunities to trim Bothell's lead even further and the Cougars made free throws to close out its victory.
"We just left a little bit on the table with a couple of missed layups and we gave up a couple of buckets that cost us in that run," Hein said. "Otherwise, we had a chance to be there."
After seeing the first three quarters, the fact that they had a chance to be there was nothing short of shocking.
Bothell jumped out to an early lead and dominated the first half. The Cougars guard combination of Perrion Callandret and Zach LaVine were scoring inside and outside and Bothell built an 18-point advantage at halftime.
The Cougars kept that lead at or around 20 points for the entire third quarter.
Until the fourth quarter, the Vikings never seemed to get any sort of offensive rhythm. Hein said his players' inability to take care of the basketball was costly in the first half.
"Turnovers really cost us tonight in the first half," he said. "I thought we, for the most part, defended well in a halfcourt, but most of our turnovers were costly, leading to 2-on-1's and 3-on-2's. The turnovers really impacted our offense."
The beneficiaries of many of those turnovers were Callandret and LaVine, who finished with 27 points and 25 points respectively.
Coming into the game, Hein knew both players, but specifically LaVine, were going to be a challenge to guard.
"Christian (Gasca) worked really hard," Hein said. "Christian had him and it's a tough assignment. He can do a lot of different things. The times where we did try to zone them and trap them a little bit, they were able to throw right over the top. So we ended up having to rely on individual defense. He's a really good player – a really good individual player. He made a ton of plays tonight. I don't know how many he ended up with ... but, too many."
Though the Vikings came up just a bit short of advancing to regionals, Hein, as he often does, gave credit to his team for never quitting.
"I'm really proud of them for maintaining their focus throughout this whole playoff run," Hein said. "Obviously, the expectation here is that we want to get to state on an annual basis and that's disappointing. So, I'm disappointed in that, but I'm not disappointed in that they left their hearts out there. Had we executed a little better in addition to that we might have had a different outcome tonight."
Kevin Smith and Tomson paced the Vikings with 12 points apiece.
At Lake Stevens H.S.
Bothell 20 18 15 15 -- 68
Lake Stevens 9 11 13 23 -- 56
Bothell--Callandret 27, LaVine 25, Pinder 4, Henry 0, Dahl 0, Wilks 10, Wick 2, Cutright 0, Webster 0, Fisherkeller 0. Lake Stevens--Shandaro 0, Smith 12, Stoen 8, Rahn 0, Tomson 12, Gasca 10, Hendrickson 0, Lian 0, Sanoh 0, Pahukoa 10, Rothgeb 0, Vandegrift 4. 3-point goals--Callandret 1, LaVine 3, Smith 2. Records--Bothell 16-9, Lake Stevens 16-10.
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Read his live blogs at www.heraldnet.com/prepzone, follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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