Now that I have had about 24 hours for reflection (and sleep), I can offer my thoughts on this year’s 3A and 4A state basketball tournament. The weekend was covered by fellow Herald Writers David Krueger, Jon Saperstein, Rich Myhre and Aaron Swaney and I think we all had moments that standout for us in a weekend that was filled with drama and intrigue.
I know there were many storylines and moments that I found compelling over the three days, but I knew it would be hard to narrow it down. Before the tournament we did five storylines for both the boys and the girls, so I figured it would be fitting if I did my top-five storylines for our local teams now that the tournament has ended.
For dramatic effect (and to make sure that you read the entire blog post), I will countdown from five to one.
5. Mountlake Terrace boys basketball team earns a trophy. Last year the Hawks entered the tournament as one of the favorites to win it all, coming in with just one loss. But the Hawks drew Rainier Beach, the eventual champion, in the first round and were eliminated in two games without a trophy. After day one this year it looked like the Hawks might be in for a similar fate, but this year they wouldn’t be denied. With wins over University and Seattle Prep, the Hawks earned fourth place in the 3A boys division.
I have covered this team several time for two seasons and it plays basketball the right way. Nalin Sood is a great coach and preaches defense and hard work to his kids and it pays off. The Hawks deserved some hardware and it was great to see that they didn’t leave the Tacoma Dome empty handed again.
4. The shot. That’s all I can think of to call it. Of course I am referring to Brittney Pahukoa’s pull up 3-pointer in transition at the end of regulation of the girls semifinal game against Arlington. Pahukoa’s shot sent the game into overtime.
Ultimately, the Vikings still lost the game, otherwise this might be my favorite moment of the tournament, The Vikings had to take the hard road through the consolation bracket to advance to the regional round, beat up on Davis to get to the quarterfinals, and then came within minutes of playing for a state championship. It was quite the year for the Vikings.
Not to take anything away from the rest of the team, but it was special to see the Pahukoa sisters play. Brooke is the scorer and Brittney, well, she just does a little bit of everything. The girls had a great career at Lake Stevens and were well-coached by Randall Edens. They have a lot to be proud of in their career at Lake Stevens and have a great future ahead of them at Boise State.
3. Arlington boys finish in the top-five. Maybe the only people that believed in the Eagles consistently all season are the people in that locker room and that is what makes them so inspiring. The Arlington boys didn’t settle for what other people thought of them, they make their own history and finishing in the top-five is a great accomplishment.
Terry Dawn was a class act all season long and in his final high-school game set the school record for career points. He need 19 against Garfield in the third or fifth place game and he got 21.
The rest of the team deserves praise as well. The kids play hard all the time and after watching the boys and the girls it is very apparent that, in Arlington, they don’t teach quit.
I also got to know coach Nick Brown this season and he deserves praise as well. Every once in a while when us journalists cover teams we come across people who you can just tell, without a doubt are really good people. Brown definitely falls into that category. His players love him and I know the Herald staff gained great respect for him throughout the season.
I played basketball in high school and I had a great coach, one that helped teach me lessons that have lasted have stuck with me in my 13 years since high school ended. The highest compliment that I can think of to give Brown is that if I had it to do all over again I would love to play for him. He genuinely cares about his kids and it shows. The success couldn’t have happened to a better guy.
2. Arlington girls place second at state. All of the praise that I just gave to Nick Brown can be echoed for Arlington girls head coach Joe Marsh. In just his second season at the helm, Marsh took the Eagles to the state championship game where the eventually fell to Mead.
We did a story early in the year about the similarities between the boys and the girls and that couldn’t be more true. No one thought the Eagles would be there. When the bracket came out I knew Arlington had a chance, but I will be honest, I didn’t think they were going to get there either. I picked Lake Stevens to be in the title game.
But the Eagles do what they always do. They put their head down and went to work and they didn’t pick it up until they had finished the job. When Pahukoa hit the huge 3-pointer to send the semifinal into overtime the Eagles could have been dejected and packed it in. Instead, they responded and finished what they started.
The girls of Arlington are a great group and they deserve the success they had this season. They more than earned that second-place trophy that will forever be in the trophy case at Arlington High School.
1. Todd almost delivers a state title on one leg. In my years of covering sports this was one of the most heroic things I have ever seen. I can’t stress this enough, no one knows just how hurt Jason Todd was during that game. The announcers talked about during the broadcast and commented how he was favoring it and things of that nature, but they didn’t know how bad it was.
I saw Jason being carried out of the locker room after the game and I saw his ankle. To think that he came back in that game and played and played at a high level, albeit not 100 percent, is absolutely unbelieveable. His return sparked a furious rally in his teammates and in the end, they almost pulled off a great comeback.
But it wasn’t to be. Curtis hung on to win the state championship game 60-56.
The Timberwolves came that close to a 27-0 undefeated championship season.
The entire group of kids and coaches deserve a ton of praise. They are perhaps the most intelligent high-school basketball team I have ever seen play to go along with all that talent. They are humble yet confident. Everything a champion should be. Next season they are sure to be the team to beat with almost all of their regular rotation returning.
And as for Todd, I’m not exaggerating when I say he is the best high-school basketball player I have ever seen and I have seen a few good ones over the years. What started on Saturday night and ended on Sunday morning in the state championship game only adds to his legend.
Jason Todd’s one-legged performance in the state championship was not only the top storyline of the tournament, but something I will never forget.
Congratulations to all of the Wesco representatives at state in 2013. It was quite the showing by all the teams and it was a pleasure covering all of the local teams this season.
What a weekend of hoops. I can’t wait till the first weekend of March in 2014. See you then!