TACOMA — It wasn’t supposed to be this easy.
Taylor Marsh and the rest of the Meadowdale boys basketball team had plenty of things working against them entering Wednesday’s game against White River:
The pressure of the Class 3A state playoffs.
The confines of the Tacoma Dome, where some of the best 3-point shooters have gone away empty-handed.
Nine a.m. game against an unfamiliar team.
Grand total of two state playoff victories in school history.
None of that mattered in Meadowdale’s 61-39 first-round dismantling of White River. Marsh made all six of his 3-point baskets and scored 26 points to lead the Mavericks to a blowout victory. In a building with a growing legend of being a shooter’s hell, the Mavericks made 58 percent of their shots (22 of 38) including eight of 12 from 3-point range. The dome did manage to claim one victim despite losing its battle to Meadowdale. White River missed all 18 of its 3-point attempts and shot only 29 percent overall.
Though no tournament shooting perfection records are kept, several bystanders doubted that many have taken six 3-point shots without a miss in the tournament’s history
"Not missing a 3, you’re definitely feeling it," said Marsh, whose 22-3 team will play Clarkston (21-3) today at approximately 3:30 p.m. for a berth into Friday’s semifinals. The dome was also unfriendly to Bellingham. The Red Raiders, who beat Meadowdale 67-62 in the district playoffs, shot only 35 percent from the field in its 70-56 loss to Clarkston.
Statistics and dome horror stories meant nothing to Marsh.
"When he gets hot, it’s lights out," Meadowdale coach Chad McGuire said. "Taylor has that capability."
Marsh wasn’t the only Maverick to post some hot shooting numbers. Colin Matteson, who will play an important role today when the Mavericks attempt to slow 6-foot-10 forward Josh Heytvelt, made seven of 10 shots and finished with 18 points. Several of his baskets resulted from passes from guards Jake Linton and Larod Lover, who finished with seven and four assists, respectively. Lover, who is 5-foot-9, also pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.
"Our guards did a great job of getting me the ball," Matteson said. "Taylor’s shooting opened everything up for us."
The game went almost precisely as McGuire hoped. Though the Mavericks committed 15 turnovers, they seemed to control the tempo and find the types of shots McGuire likes.
"We shot well because we took good shots," McGuire said. "We talked about this before the tournament. For us to be successful, we have to go inside-out. Colin has 18 inside points and Taylor takes good shots from the perimeter. When you have that balance, it’s tough to stop."
If Meadowdale were to believe the dome’s reputation, taking aim from behind the 3-point line facing toward the open end of the floor in the first half would have been a bad idea.
Perhaps the dome is softening as it grows older. The Mavericks made five of their seven 3-point shots in the first half.
Marsh made three of Meadowdale’s five first-half 3-point baskets. Linton made only one of three in the first half, but the one came from four feet behind the 3-point line. Linton recorded four assists and two steals in the half.
The Hornets appeared white-hot early in the game, making their first three shots to take a 6-2 lead 1:10 into the game. Marsh and Matteson combined for an 8-0 run for a 13-8 lead with 3:39 remaining in the quarter, and the Mavericks never trailed again.
Linton’s long 3 at the end of the first quarter gave Meadowdale a 19-14 lead. The Mavericks completed a 14-0 run by scoring the first 11 points of the second quarter and went into the locker room at halftime with a 34-20 lead. After Marsh hit his third 3 with 3:08 remaining in the second quarter, the Hornets trailed by 12 or more points the rest of the way.
Meadowdale—Lover 4, McGinnis 2, Huffman, Marsh 26, Linton 5, Epler, Myhre, Bahta, Faison 1, Stabbert, Matteson 18, Hagen 4. White River—Addink 1, Arsanto, Slawson 2, Raihl-Partridge 6, Honeysett, Browning 2, Snodgrass, Hubbard 2, Gran 5, Nixon 15, Thomas 4, Berkshire. 3-point goals—Lover 1, Marsh 6, Linton 1. Records—Meadowdale 22-3. White River 20-5.