MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — If there was ever a night when a coach had to pinch himself after a victory, Tuesday might have been that night.
Mountlake Terrace rallied from 20 points down with just over six minutes remaining in the game to score an improbable 63-62 win over Edmonds-Woodway. The Hawks finished the game on a 23-2 run.
Mountlake Terrace’s star junior guard Samantha Romanowski scored 32 points, more than half of her team’s total, but when the Hawks needed a bucket the most they were forced to turn to someone else. Senior forward Nikkie Froehlich scored the go-ahead basket with 14 seconds remaining after Romanowski had fouled out on Edmonds-Woodway’s previous possession.
“Is it real?” Mountlake Terrace first-year head coach Zach Wilde said after the game. “We got Sam Romanowski on the bench and we just came out and we won against a good team, a good team that made a lot of shots and our team only won seven games last year. It’s going to be hard to chill down and get some sleep tonight.”
Romanowski had scored half of her points in the final quarter and would have been the logical choice to take the shot on a final possession had she been in the game. With her out, Wilde didn’t hesitate to put the ball in Froehlich’s hands with the game on the line.
“I walked over to Nikkie and I said, ‘You’re going to win the game for us,’” Wilde said. “I didn’t say it like that, but I said, ‘It’s your time to go out there.’ I’ve been trying to say that to her for a long time. For a girl that passes the ball all the time she sure made a great shot at the end of the game.”
After Froehlich’s shot went down, Edmonds-Woodway called a timeout to set up a play. Junior guard Natalie Kasper drew a foul driving to the hoop and stepped to the free-throw line needing just one to potentially force overtime and two to take the lead. Both shots rimmed out and Mountlake Terrace’s Senaiet Zerom secured the rebound with three seconds left in the game and was immediately fouled by the Warriors. Zerom would also come up empty at the line giving the Warriors one final chance. Edmonds-Woodway head coach Rebekah Wells called a timeout with two seconds to set up a play.
Edmonds-Woodway got a look from just beyond half court as time expired, but the heave was wide and the Hawks had escaped.
“We didn’t want to lose,” Romanowski said. “We just wanted to push and push. Our coach got us going and we got going and we were just excited and really wanted to get the win.”
Romanowski is used to opponents focusing their defensive efforts on her, all the more reason she was happy to see a teammate step up and make the biggest shot of the night.
“It makes me really excited,” Romanowski said. “I know with me being out there a lot of people are like, ‘Get her the ball.’ But when I know I can go out and rely on the other people to get it done it puts a lot more confidence in me for my teammates and it made me so happy to see them go out there and finish the game and be able to put it away like that.”
Froehlich finished the game with 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
After missing her first three shots, Romanowski found her touch in the first quarter. She knocked down three 3s in the period and had 11 points to lead the Hawks to a 19-17 advantage.
The Warriors tightened their defensive efforts on the star guard in the second quarter using a box-and-one defense with Natalie Kasper guarding Romanowski. The Warriors allowed her just one made field goal — a 3-pointer — and held the Hawks to just 12 points. Unfortunately for Edmonds-Woodway, they managed just 12 points themselves and trailed 31-29 at the break.
The Warriors took complete control of the game in fourth quarter outscoring Mountlake Terrace 20-5 and taking a 13-point advantage heading into the final period.
“That third quarter, I want to erase it from my mind, but I can’t,” Wilde said. “These girls are just starting to believe. From day one it’s been about culture and they’re starting to change their mind right now and it’s something nice to be a part of.”
The Warriors extended that lead to 57-40 with 6:32 remaining in the game after Wilde became upset after his team didn’t get a foul call on a drive to the basket by guard Shaian Pagaling. Wilde was eventually whistled for a technical and E-W’s Moni Jackson converted two free throws.
Kasper added a three on the Warriors next possession to extend the lead to 20 before Romanowski led the comeback.
Lost in a sea of Warriors’ turnovers and made shots by the Hawks, is Wilde’s technical, which seemed to be the catalyst for the Hawks’ efforts. It also might have been calculated by Wilde.
“I really didn’t want to get one and have it end in a one-point game and have those two points be the reason why we didn’t comeback, you know the first-year coach who gets a technical and loses his game for the team,” Wilde said. “Sometimes you need to fire up the kids. I learned a lot from (former Mariners manager) Lou Piniella when I was a kid. At the same time, if I’m going to tell the girls to keep their composure I still have to keep mine, so that one is on me. I’ll run a set of lines for it tomorrow.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com.
At Mountlake Terrace H.S.
Edmonds-Woodway 17 12 20 13 — 62
Mountlake Terrace 19 12 5 27 — 63
Edmonds-Woodway—Kate Wooley 0, Allie Browning 4, Mady Burdett 13, Sidney Eck 11, Natalie Kasper 16, Maddy Nealey 0, Claire Fyfe 2, Moni Jackson 11, Lea Bakken 1, Victoria Lebesis 2, Sydney Peterson 2. Mountlake Terrace—Nikkie Froehlich 14, Kenzie Zehrung 0, Senaiet Zerom 0, Samantha Romanowski 32, Shaian Pagaling 5, Yesenia Pena 2, Riley Zucker 0, Maddy Kristjanson 8, Amanda Tompkins 2. 3-point goals—Kasper 3, Burdett 3, Jackson 1, Romanowski 7. Records—Edmonds-Woodway 2-1 overall. Mountlake Terrace 4-0.