By Aaron Lommers and Jon Saperstein Herald Writers
The Mountlake Terrace boys basketball team enters Friday night’s state regional game fresh off a District 1 tournament championship victory over Glacier Peak, with no injuries and only one loss on its resume this season.
Defensively, the Hawks are a hard team to prepare for because they have a number of players who can score — nine different players have led the team in scoring in a game this season.
Mountlake Terrace vs. Decatur, Friday night, 8 p.m. at Jackson H.S.
Head coach Nalin Sood said at this time of the season there has to be an X-factor, and for the Hawks that could be Coby Russell and Greg Bowman. Both post players have had games this season where they have dominated inside, but statistically, their numbers haven’t been as high recently.
“If there is an X-factor, I would like to see Greg and Coby score a few more baskets,” Sood said.
According to Sood, tonight’s opponent Decatur doesn’t have a lot of size, so it might be a good time for the two players to get back in rhythm.
The game also brings an element of contrasting styles. Because Decatur doesn’t have a lot of size, Sood said the game could come down to which team has the advantage when the bigger players of Mountlake Terrace try to guard the smaller Decatur players or when the smaller Decatur players have to guard the bigger post players of the Hawks.
One thing is certain, the Hawks will rely heavily on their defense as they have the entire season.
“It’s an attitude the kids have and it’s a belief the kids have,” Sood said of his team’s defense. “If you are going to win championships, you are going to have to play good defense.”
YOU AGAIN: There is history between Jackson and Federal Way.
The Timberwolves defeated Federal Way two years ago in the state semifinals to advance to the championship game. That game may have only been two years ago, but Timberwolves coach Steve Johnson is quick to point at that these are two very different teams.
“No one that played in that game is still playing,” he said.
Jackson vs. Federal Way, Friday night, 6 p.m. at Kent-Meridian H.S.
A few players who are playing in Friday night’s game are Jason Todd and Dan Kingma. Todd has been the consistent No. 1 offensive option for Jackson all season, but it has been Kingma who Johnson said has really stepped up in the latter half of the season. Kingma’s play is perhaps part of the reason that the Timberwolves are riding an eight-game winning streak going into the game.
Johnson said keys to victory Friday night will be taking care of the ball, maintaining defensive consistency and rebounding and said that the game will likely come down to which team executes the best. The Timberwolves were picked to finish third in the Wesco South before the season began in a coaches poll, but now find themselves just one game away from playing in the Tacoma Dome.
“It’s a great group of kids that have really done everything that’s been asked of them, so I’d be ecstatic for them,” Johnson said.
MORE THAN LUKE: Everyone knows who Luke Hamlin is.
But the fate of the Snohomish boys basketball team may rest in the hands of his teammates.
The Panthers’ opponent Friday night is Bellarmine Prep, which is likely to key in on guard Hamlin, who has proven to be one of the best scorers in the state this season, averaging 24 points per game.
Snohomish head coach Len Bone said the games in which his team has had the most success have been when Hamlin’s teammates have knocked down shots — and the Panthers certainly have players who can do it. Gabe Reichenberger, Russell Crippen (below), Kevin Yates and Mitch Stewart can all score from long range and will be called upon to take on some of the scoring load.
Snohomish vs. Bellarmine Prep, Friday night, 8 p.m. at Kent-Meridian H.S.
Bone said the Panthers will also face a challenge inside against Bellarmine, who comes into the game with a record of 22-3.
“For the five guys on the floor, Bellarmine is probably the biggest team we have played,” Bone said.
Bone said that the Panthers goal has been to try to have the season go as long as possible and said ending in Tacoma would be a better feeling.
“I think it would feel quite a bit different if the season ends in Tacoma … but you have got to win to get there,” he said.
ALL THE RIGHT HOOKS: Glacier Peak’s Zach Pederson is a special player. The junior post is a deadly consistent scorer, averaging a Wesco 3A-leading 21.7 points per game. Pederson does it with a nearly unstoppable mini hook shot that he uses from close range. Just about all the Grizzlies have had to do is get him the ball on the blocks this season, and it’s been good for two points.
“He has an unbelievable knack for putting the ball in the hole,” coach Brian Hunter said. “Great touch. Obviously our kids believe in him.”
Glacier Peak vs. Rainier Beach, Friday night, 6 p.m. at Bellevue College
Pederson’s game-winning shot Tuesday against Shorecrest propelled the Grizzlies to their third straight state tournament contest, which has the fans from the four-year old school in Snohomish excited. What they may not be excited about, however is the opponent: Rainier Beach, which stands between GP and a trip to the Tacoma Dome next week. After being ranked No. 1 for nearly the entire regular season, the five-time state-title winning Vikings (last in 2008) were upset by Seattle Prep in the district tournament. While Beach will focus on Pederson the Grizzlies will have their hands full with the Vikings’ lightning-quick guard Anrio Adams, who averages 20.5 points per game.