MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — When asked about his team’s defensive effort in the second half of Saturday’s 48-30 victory over Mark Morris at the Mountlake Terrace Holiday Tournament, Mountlake Terrace head basketball coach Nalin Sood couldn’t help but crack a slight smile.
It’s hard to blame him, his team held the Monarchs, the No. 4 ranked 2A team in the state by The Seattle Times, to 12 points after halftime, including just three in the third period.
“They are a good basketball team,” Sood said of the Monarchs. “They will probably be in Yakima (the site of the 2A state tournament). They run their stuff really well. They have good shooters, but maybe our defense just frustrated them. Maybe our effort was just that much what we need right now. I don’t have the right words to say what they were doing, all I know is we have to be a great defensive team.”
Despite an 8-2 record, Sood said one of the frustrating things about the Hawks this season has been their inability to put together an entire game.
That is, until Saturday.
“We have had a problem all year, and we are at game 10 here, that we haven’t played for 32 minutes,” Sood said. “Each game we can go back and there are bits and pieces, or even longer than that, where we didn’t sustain where there was defensive breakdowns or turnovers. I thought tonight, we were up by nine at halftime and then it got up to 18 or 20 and we sustained finally and played 32 minutes of basketball against a good team.”
The defensive effort was what those who watch the Hawks consistently have come to expect, as was the balance demonstrated on the offensive end. Four different players, Jesse Zerom, Blake Fernandez, Marquis Armstead and Greg Bowman, led Mountlake Terrace in scoring, each with 10 points.
“(The balance) is huge,” Sood said of the scoring. “I look at the scoring to see who we should really key in on on other teams and it’s really cool to see the sixth guy Terrace, the 10th guy Terrace, the 14th guy Terrace and that’s what it’s got to be like. And that’s a job that I have to do is to get these kids to believe in it. They could go to other programs and be 18- to 20-point scorers. But can they be efficient scorers for us and can we be a team that’s really hard to guard? When you do a scouting report where can you say that’s who you key on? Because you hopefully have to key in on a bunch of guys.”
Ten games into the season the Hawks are through most of their non-conference schedule and ready to go into league play for much of the rest of the season. Sood said before the year began that he intentionally wanted a tough early season schedule to help prepare his team for the type of competition they may face if they are able to get back to the state tournament in the Tacoma Dome.
“I’m pleased right now, yesterday I wasn’t, 24 hours ago because we hadn’t put it together,” Sood said. “I was pleased that we were competing. I was pleased, you know, I guess if you want to say with the record. But I wasn’t pleased with where we were at in terms of staying on top of things for 32 minutes. So I’m a little bit more pleased today. In terms of what we did in nonleague, I think we showed we can play against really good 4A teams, I think we played against a really good 3A team and we played against a really good 2A team. And that was the whole objective with our nonleague schedule.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Mountlake Terrace H.S.
Mountlake Terrace—Jesse Zerom 10, AnhViet Nguyen 0, Blake Fernandez 10, Yohans Tewolde 0, Michael Lotz 4, Marquis Armstead 10, Greg Bowman 10, LeTrae Sarden 2, Loren Lacasse 2, Yoel Tekle 0. Mark Morris—Nate Teeters 0, Hayden Tapani 5, Tanner Brill 9, Von Johnson 4, Grant Gibb 5, Seth Huhta 0, Keigan Baker 0, Hayden Tilton 6, A.J. Golden 0, Ryan Littlefield 1. 3-point goals—Tapani 1, Brill 1, Tilton 2, Zerom 2. Records—Mountlake Terrace 8-2 overall. Mark Morris 6-3.