MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Zach Wilde was nervous before Friday night’s Wesco 3A South showdown between Mountlake Terrace and Shorewood.
After snow delayed the game three days, the first-year Hawks girls basketball coach was even more anxious.
Wilde suspected the game against Shorewood would be a battle. Fortunately for Mountlake Terrace, Samantha Romanowski rebounded from a tough game last week with 16 points and the Hawks began to pull away in the second half on their way to a 53-42 win at Mountlake Terrace High School on Monday night.
“I was scared to play them on Friday last week. I was even more scared to play them today,” Wilde said. “Friday we can’t have practice. We just came off a bad game on Tuesday. We come in Saturday we have practice. Sunday I have to give them a day off and then we come back in and we have to play a league game on a Monday right before Christmas. It’s a scary game for a coach. I’m glad it’s out of the way.”
The game, like most in the area on Friday, was postponed due to overnight snowfall in the Pacific Northwest. It gave Wilde a little extra time to tweak his game plan, including his starting lineup, which featured Kirsty Dale for the first time this season. Wilde liked what he had been seeing from the senior forward, and inserted her into the starting five.
Dale had six points and a pair of steals for Mountlake Terrace in her first game as a starter.
“We tweaked the starting lineup a little bit. Kirsty came off the bench and played huge for us starting,” Wilde said. “… We’re getting contributions from more than just one player now, which is huge for us. That way teams can’t box us in.”
Romanowski had to sit out much of last week’s 53-31 loss to Arlington — Mountlake Terrace’s first of the season — with foul trouble. The Hawks’ leading scorer was held to three points on one basket in that contest.
Monday night Romanowski got back on track quickly, with half of her 16 points in the opening quarter.
In a sign of how well things were going for the Hawks, Romanowski was aided by an official while grabbing her second steal of the game. The official got caught in the steal and kept the ball inbounds near the sideline — which led to a pass, foul and two free throws by Maddy Kristjanson, which allowed Mountlake Terrace to retake the lead, 18-16, in the second quarter.
After halftime, where Mountlake Terrace (2-0 league, 6-1 overall) had a slim 24-22 advantage, the Hawks held Shorewood scoreless for the first four and a half minutes of the third quarter while building a 32-22 lead. Mountlake Terrace’s defensive pressure didn’t stop, and the Hawks began to pull away.
“The second half was a lot better,” Wilde said. “Our defense picked up, our offense started moving, we made some shots. That really helped us at the end.”
Along with Romanowski, the Hawks were aided by senior forward Maddy Kristjanson who finished Monday’s game with 14 points and five rebounds. Kristjanson had to go up against a pair of Shorewood posts who were listed at three inches taller than her.
Height was about the only thing Mountlake Terrace lacked Monday night.
“We worked on it for the past for days on being physical. We’re going to be the smallest team in the league but we’re going to have to be the toughest team,” Wilde said. “Not giving up the block, having our guards dig down. That just took some grit, some toughness from us that I didn’t know we had.
“Now I know we have it.”
Lily Gustafson led Shorewood with 11 points and 10 rebounds and fellow forward Karrin Leazer added nine points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Thunderbirds (0-3, 3-3).
“I don’t know how you coach height, because you can’t,” Wilde said. “They’re a big team. They’re young. As soon as they start putting things together they’ll be a scary team. Even though they’re at the bottom (of the standings) right now they’re a good team and they’re scary. When we go back and play at their place it’s going to be a dogfight.”
Mountlake Terrace was able to win the first matchup and make its coach look smart with a lineup change that helped lead it to victory.
“It was just a move I wanted to make, regardless of how the Arlington game went,” Wilde said of putting Dale in the starting lineup. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s how players make coaches look like geniuses.”
The young coach, who graduated from nearby Snohomish High School in 2008, said coaching games like Monday’s — and dealing with what Mother Nature throws at him and his team — is a lot of fun.
“Oh I don’t have a life outside of basketball,” Wilde said. “I’m lucky I get work off for the next two weeks. … I’m going to get gray hairs a lot earlier in my life than I thought I was. But it’s a lot of fun, especially when they come out and do stuff like this. It’s a lot of fun to be a part of.”
At Mountlake Terrace H.S.
Shorewood 11 11 8 12 — 42
Mountlake Terrace 10 14 12 17 — 53
Shorewood–Kayla Bradley 0, Salyna McDonald 4, Mika Morgan 0, Abby Gustafson 9, Jasmine Pollard 0, Lily Gustafson 11, Danica Bernabe 0, Karrin Leazer 9, Taryn Shelley 7, Ledia Musye 2. Mountlake Terrace–Nikkie Forehlich 8, Senaiet Zerom 0, Samantha Romanowski 16, Kirsty Dale 6, Shaian Pagaling 9, Riley Zucker 0, Maddy Kristjanson 14. 3-point goals–A. Gustafson 3, Romanowski 2. Records–Shorewood 0-3 league, 3-3 overall. Mountlake Terrace 2-0, 6-1.