By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
DES MOINES — In reality it was nothing more than a nonconference loss early in the season that has no bearing on the playoffs.
But try telling that to the Mountlake Terrace boys’ basketball team.
The Hawks came into Saturday night’s game against Lincoln as the No. 9-ranked Class 3A team in the state according to the Seattle Times poll, but the Abes were even more highly regarded at No. 2.
Rankings didn’t matter for 31 minutes as the Hawks controlled the game, but the Abes caught up to, and passed, the Hawks in the final minute — their first lead since early in the first quarter — and won the game 60-59.
Hawks coach Nalin Sood said it was disappointing to not finish off the Abes.
“If we get too down from this, if we reel from this too much it will be counterproductive,” Sood said. “And then if we were walking around thinking we won the state championship because we won by one, it would be counterproductive. You’ve got to remove the emotion from it.”
While the Hawks didn’t get the victory, they certainly proved they can play with one of the best teams in the state.
“In terms of on paper, this game meant nothing,” Sood said. “It means a lot emotionally. It means a lot confidence wise. It means a lot in terms of mental makeup of kids. But on paper, that’s all you have to take from it, on paper it doesn’t mean much. We have to go out there and see what we can do to build from this experience.”
The Abes chipped away at the Hawks’ lead for most of the second half and finally tied the game just over three minutes into the fourth quarter, but the Hawks were relentless. They continued to come up with big basket after big basket, many provided by guard Marquis Armstead, who finished with a team-high 27 points.
The Hawks led 59-55 late in the game when the Abes two best players took charge. First, Tre’Shaun Fletcher cut the deficit to two, and seconds later Ahmaad Rorie tied the game at 59.
Fletcher finished with a game-high 28 points and Rorie added 16.
The Hawks had possession in the final minute and post Greg Bowman got a good look from inside, but his shot rimmed out. Fletcher grabbed the rebound with no intentions of setting up the offense. He took the ball coast-to-coast drawing a foul on Armstead, his fifth personal. Fletcher made one of his two free throws.
The Hawks would have to go into their final possession without the player who had the hot hand for most of the night. They set up a play that got guard Jesse Zerom an open look at a three from straightaway, but his shot hit the back iron. The Hawks immediately fouled Ar’Mond Davis with just 8.2 seconds left. Davis missed the front end of the one-and-one and Zerom quickly pushed the ball up the court for one final chance.
But there was Fletcher once again. Fletcher turned away Zerom’s offering at the buzzer and the Abes escaped.
“We had some good opportunities, the basketball gods didn’t smile on us and we will just see how the next couple of weeks progress for us,” Sood said.
If the Hawks accomplished one thing, it was getting the respect of Lincoln head coach Aubrey Shelton — if they didn’t already have it.
“Those guys are a state-caliber team,” Shelton said of Mountlake Terrace. “They are very good. They are missing their point guard (Blake Fernandez) who is out with a broken wrist. But they can really play. I’m glad we could play them and be challenged and see what our guys are made of.”
Whether his team expected it or not, Shelton said he knew the Hawks would be ready to play.
“Yes, I absolutely did,” he said. “I don’t know if our guys were ready, but I knew what they had. They were 23-3 last year. They only lost a couple of guys and those guys are all seniors that played in big games before.
“So, I knew it was going to be a battle.”
At Highline C.C.
Lincoln—Latravion Satterwhite 7, Josiah Barsh 0, Tre’Shaun Fletcher 28, Dionte Simon 2, Kashawn Johnson 0, Ahmaad Rorie 16, Ar’Mond Davis 5, Jusstis Warren 2, Justice Martion 0, Jamarae Finnie 0. Mountlake Terrace—Jesse Zerom 2, AhnViet Nguyen 0, Michael Lotz 8, Marquis Armstead 27, Greg Bowman 8, LeTrae Sarden 0, Loren Lacosse 14. 3-point goals—Fletcher 1, Rorie 1, Davis 1, Armstead 4. Records—Mountlake Terrace 4-1 overall. Lincoln 3-0.