Shorewood -- which is atop the Wesco 3A South standings -- was on a six-game winning streak and had won eight of its past nine games. Meadowdale, which started the night in third place, had won seven of its past eight.
Then the Mavericks made it eight of their past nine, beating the Thunderbirds 51-46 in a crucial Wesco 3A South girls basketball game Wednesday night at Meadowdale High School. Mackenzie Bretz had a double-double and Sara Fjortoft made a couple clutch free throws late to lead Meadowdale.
"That was a game with two really mature teams, who know what they want to get done," Meadowdale head coach Troy Parker said.
Meadowdale and Shorewood -- two of the hottest teams in Wesco 3A right now -- each have clinched a district playoff berth, but the Mavericks needed to win Wednesday to preserve their chances of a league championship.
Bretz did all she could to keep Meadowdale in position to do that. She scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Mavs, who moved into second-place tie in the 3A South with Glacier Peak's 48-43 loss to Shorecrest.
"Mackenzie is going to produce when she's on the court," Parker said. "She's always in a position to make plays."
Meadowdale also received solid play from seniors Alyssa Reuble and Tianna Nugent, who scored 10 points apiece. Each player also grabbed five rebounds.
Nugent was playing in just her second game after missing a month of the season with a broken finger that she injured in what Parker characterized a "freak" accident in practice.
"I thought (Nugent) was absolutely key scoring for us late," Parker said. "And she has the ability to grab rebounds. She's such a steady force for us."
Nugent made a basket from the post with about five minutes to play in the game that gave Meadowdale a 44-42 lead.
The Mavericks led the close game the rest of the way, sealing it with Fjortoft's two free throws in the final 21 seconds that increased the lead to 50-46 and made it a two-possession game.
"Fjortoft's two clutch free throws, I think, were a key point of the game," Parker said.
Shorewood missed two shot attempts at the other end of the court and Bretz added a free throw for the game's final score.
Nugent had four points in the final quarter and Bretz scored three, while the Mavericks' defense held Shorewood to just four points.
The Thunderbirds' Masha Shtikel finished with a game-high 18 points, despite being a main focus for the Meadowdale defense.
Parker said there's only so much that can be done against an offensive force like Shtikel.
"For us, it started with Masha. We made her a focus," Parker said. "She's going to find a way to get those points. We had some success, as much as you can have against her."
The senior also had five rebounds and five steals. Lily Gustafson added eight points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
"Shorewood plays such good defense," Parker said. "It causes trouble. ... They're a really mature team. You're not going to trick them."
Shorewood (8-2 league, 13-4 overall) started the game with a 7-0 run. Meadowdale (7-3, 12-5) didn't score until three and a half minutes in when Reuble made a free throw that sparked a 9-0 Mavericks' run. In the second quarter, Meadowdale got going early, scoring seven straight points on its way to a 29-25 halftime lead.
The victory extended Meadowdale's strong second-half push. Going into the last few games of the season, the Mavericks are now tied with Glacier Peak for second place in the Wesco 3A South conference. Meadowdale plays the Grizzlies Friday night at Glacier Peak, and has games against Marysville Getchell and Shorecrest next week to close out the regular season.
Shorewood has games remaining against Mountlake Terrace, Glacier Peak and Stanwood. The Thunderbirds split the season series with Meadowdale, winning 60-50 at home on Dec. 12.
Both teams look to continue their strong finishes, and carry the momentum into the playoffs.
"I think when you're on a roll, you have to win different types of games," Parker said. "Tonight we won a tough, defensive game."
At Meadowdale H.S.
Shorewood 12 13 17 4 -- 46
Meadowdale 14 15 11 11 -- 51
Shorewood--Masha Shtikel 18, Lauren Thompson 7, Kayla Bradley 5, Gabby Hager 2, Salyna McDonald 2, Lily Gustafson 8, Abby Gustafson 2, Kassie Rasmussen 2, Angel Tulee 0. Meadowdale--Keely Hayes 3, Sara Fjortoft 4, Kearstin Franco 0, Tianna Nugent 10, Alyssa Reuble 10, Julianne Kossian 3, Mackenzie Bretz 13, Madison Parker 6, Ndey Sonko 2. 3-point goals--Shtikel 3, Thompson 1, Hayes 1, Reuble 1, Kossian 1, Parker 2. Records--Shorewood 8-2 league, 13-4 overall. Meadowdale 7-3, 12-5.
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