TACOMA — It took a team effort, but the Meadowdale boys basketball team took down the giant standing in its path to the Class 3A state tournament semifinals.
Behind a well-executed defensive scheme designed to stop 6-foot-10 behemoth Josh Heytvelt, the Mavericks defeated the Clarkston Bantams 48-34 in the quarterfinals on Thursday at the Tacoma Dome.
"This is a total team effort defensively," Meadowdale coach Chad McGuire said. " (Meadowdale assistant coach) Dean Wiley pretty much put tonight’s defensive game plan together, and our players executed really well."
Meadowdale (23-3) plays defending state champion Rainier Beach (25-2) in today’s semfinal game — a rematch of last year’s semifinal. The Vikings, behind the play of twins Lodrick and Rodrick Stewart (who have graduated), won last year’s game 50-34.
Clarkston (21-4) will play Timberline (19-6) in a loser-out contest at 2 p.m. today.
The key to the Mavericks’ victory Thursday was their smothering defense on Heytvelt, who opened the tournament with a 27-point, 15-rebound, six-block performance in Clarkston’s win over Bellingham.
"He’s 6-10 and can shoot like a guard. You look at film on him and he’s scary," McGuire said of the Gonzaga-bound Heytvelt. "We wanted to force him into tough shots and I think we did a good job of that."
Throughout the entire game, at least two Maverick players were guarding Heytvelt, with usually a third defender close by. The constant defensive pressure led to Heytvelt taking a number of awkward shots, including four 3-point attempts that missed badly. While he had three blocked shots in the first half, Heytvelt also had four turnovers to go with just two points and three rebounds.
Six-foot-seven Colin Matteson led the effort to contain Heytvelt, with 6-6 Danny Hagen and 6-7 Daniel Stabbert coming on in relief of Matteson.
"Colin put together as good a defensive performance as I’ve ever seen for a post," McGuire said of Matteson. "Danny and Daniel also played a lot of key minutes and were both very effective on defense."
With Heytvelt subdued and Clarkston’s outside shooters struggling, the Mavericks were able to methodically build a lead. Meadowdale jumped out to a 4-0 advantage and never looked back.
Jake Linton scored 10 of his 17 points in the first half and the Mavericks outscored Clarkston 13-2 in the second quarter to take a 24-9 edge into halftime. The Bantams shot just 12 percent from the field in the first half and finished with a 24.4 percent shooting percentage for the game. Meadowdale made 41.5% of its shots (17 of 41).
The Mavericks got a quick reminder of Heytvelt’s talent early in the third quarter, when he found himself alone under the basket and threw down an uncontested one-handed dunk to make it 24-11.
"Our coaches warned us he’d make amazing plays," said Hagen, who finished with six points and six rebounds. "We just couldn’t play afraid. We knew he would get his blocks and we just had to play through that and keep shooting."
The Mavericks’ defense regrouped — Heytvelt finished the game with 11 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots, and he was 5-for-10 from the free throw line. Clarkston made 12 of 21 free throws and the Mavericks made 10 of 12 shots from the line.
The guard play of Meadowdale’s LaRod Lover and Linton made it very difficult for Heytvelt to catch the ball anywhere near the basket. Lover and Linton combined for seven of Meadowdale’s eight steals, including a game-high five steals for Lover.
"We got great ball pressure from our guards," said Matteson, who scored eight of his 12 points in the second half, to go with six rebounds. "That made it really hard for them to get the ball inside."
Clarkston went to a full-court press in an effort to get back into the game. The press had little effect, as the Bantams cut the Mavericks’ lead to 40-31 late in the fourth quarter before Meadowdale pulled away.
Clarkston’s Collin Castellaw hit a running bank shot 3-pointer just before time expired to make it a 48-34 final. The Bantams made 2 of its 19 3-point attempts, compared to 4 of 12 3-point shooting for Meadowdale.
Meadowdale—Linton 17, Matteson 12, Marsh 9, Hagen 6, Lover 2, Faison 2. Clarkston—Heytvelt 11, Tucker 9, Bennett 4, Vogeler 4, Turnbow 3, Castellaw 3. 3-point goals—Marsh 1, Linton 3, Turnbow 1, Castellaw 1. Records—Meadowdale 23-3 overall. Clarkston 21-4.