KENT — It’s hard for basketball teams at any level to win when they don’t take care of the ball, a lesson Mountlake Terrace learned on Monday in a 46-43 loss to Portland’s Central Catholic High School in the King Showcase at the ShoWare Center in Kent.
The Hawks turned the ball over 16 times versus just three for the Knights, who also stole the ball 13 times to just one for Mountlake Terrace.
From the game’s opening tip, the Hawks struggled with the Knights’ physical pressure defense.
“They played pretty good defense and it was limiting our offensive opportunities,” Mountlake Terrace coach Nalin Sood said. “We turned the basketball over and we don’t get a shot off, so you never get a chance to get some shots up and get a rhythm going. We killed ourselves with that and that’s been our Achilles heel.”
Central Catholic came into the game with a 4-9 record, but appearances can be deceiving. The Knights were the runner-up for the 6A state championship in Oregon a season ago and have been competitive in all but one of their games this season. Many of their losses have come in tournament play against high-level competition.
Knights’ head coach Dan Munson said he still believes his team is one of the five best in the state of Oregon and it all starts with defense.
“We thought the defense set the tone and that’s something that we’re going to have to do if we’re going to win,” Munson said.
Central Catholic allowed the Hawks just 39 shot attempts. They made 16, but the story was the limited amount of opportunities.
“They are a physical team,” Sood said. “You can tell they won the football state championship. They don’t let you go where you want to go. They make you work for everything. You are going to have to work to get good shots and then on top of that you are even getting some shots because of turnovers. That limits your chances.”
Central Catholic defeated Jesuit in December to win Oregon’s 6A state football championship.
Munson had seen Mountlake Terrace play in the summer and made it a point to attack the Hawks’ inexperienced backcourt.
“I know they are kind of lacking some guard play so we tried to expose that a little bit,” Munson said. “The best part was our guys did it without fouling.”
Mountlake Terrace led twice in the opening minutes, but the Knights seized control and led 16-13 after the first quarter. Both offenses struggled in the second quarter, each scoring eight points, giving the Knights a 24-21 advantage at halftime.
Central Catholic opened the second half with an 11-5 run to extend its lead to nine, which proved to be the biggest of the game for either team, at 35-26, but a 7-0 run by the Hawks highlighted by one of Loren Lacasse’s three 3s cut the deficit to two entering the final quarter.
The Hawks scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to extend their run to 12-0 and take their first lead since the first quarter, but the Knights bounced back. Blake Brandel’s fastbreak dunk with 4:23 to play in the game gave Central Catholic at 41-40 advantage and the Knights never trailed again.
Greg Bowman’s driving layup with 48 seconds to play made it a one-possession game and the Hawks would get one final chance after a bizarre call led to a shot clock violation.
Munson had called for a timeout to set up a play, but when his team came back out on the floor, the shot clock was off. The game clock ran down to 9.5 seconds before the referees stopped play. After a conferring with each other, they ruled the Knights had committed a shot-clock violation turning the ball over to Mountlake Terrace with 10.4 seconds remaining after adding 0.9 seconds to the game clock.
“What they (the officials) said was what the time was before we called the timeout minus what was on the shot clock, they mathematically said it was a shot-clock violation,” Munson said.
Munson had discussed with his team that it had to try to score on the possession in the previous timeout, but his players seemed to operate as if they didn’t after seeing the shot clock turned off.
“With us in Oregon not having a shot clock, when I called a timeout our kids were like, ‘coach, why are we trying to score?’” Munson said. “I said, ‘because there’s a shot clock and it’s going to be a violation.’”
Rather than give the Hawks a chance to tie with a three, Munson elected to foul, sending Isaiah Green to the free-throw line with 4.3 seconds to play in the game.
“I’ve seen too many games where at the end of the game the basket gets bigger and a guy makes a shot when you’re up three,” Munson said. “We feel like with our bigs we can rebound and make free throws. Under six or seven seconds we’ll foul.”
Green made the first, but missed the second and the Hawks fouled Patrick Myers immediately. Myers also made the first and missed the second. Bowman grabbed the rebound, but his outlet pass to Prescott Day was intercepted by Xavier Hallinan, who ran out the clock.
Hallinan finished with 17 points to lead all scorers and Brandel chipped in 14.
Lacasse (15 points) and Bowman (11) were the only Mountlake Terrace players to score in double figures. No other Hawks player had more than six.
The loss dropped Mountlake Terrace to 10-4 on the season. None of the Hawks four losses have been by more than five points.
“All four of our losses have come down to one possession,” Sood said. “But we’ve got to get one eventually here to feel good about it. Competing is great and competing is dandy, but you want to get over the hump a little bit also.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At ShoWare Center
Central Catholic 16 8 11 11 — 46
Mountlake Terrace 13 8 12 10 — 43
Central Catholic—Xavier Hallinan 17, Cole Stringer 4, La’Mar Winston 3, Austin Rose 0, Aidan Wilder 0, Patrick Myers 6, Cameron Scarlett 1, Ben College 1, Blake Brandel 14. Mountlake Terrace—Isaiah Green 1, Yonnas Tewolde 0, Prescott Day 3, Gabe Altenberger 6, Matthew Moisant 5, Greg Bowman 11, Loren Lacasse 15, Yoel Tekle 2. 3-point goals—Day 1, Moisant 1, Bowman 1, Lacasse 3. Records— Central Catholic 5-9. Mountlake Terrace 10-4.