EVERETT — Marysville Getchell junior guard Malakhi Knight is a scorer. There’s no denying it.
But he doesn’t have a chucker’s mentality; He takes what’s given to him and doesn’t force much.
But when Marysville Getchell sat in their locker room at Everett Community College, down 22-17 to Meadowdale, Chargers head coach Corby Schuh, offered a challenge to Knight.
“I said, ‘Dude, you’ve only taken four shots,” Schuh recalled. “‘You have to be a little more selfish and try and be a little creative.’ He just kind of picks his spots and he’s a smart player and found some open looks.”
Knight responded with aplomb, pouring in nine of his 22 points in the fourth quarter during an 8-of-12 shooting performance from the field to guide Marysville Getchell past Meadowdale, 50-40, on Sunday. The victory marks the program’s first-ever berth to the regional round of the state tournament.
“He’s a really unselfish player,” Schuh said. “He’s the best scorer in our league and he’s really efficient.”
The Chargers struggled to score early on and find Knight shots, as the Mavericks employed a suffocating box-and-one defense that had senior forward Mason Vaughn shadowing Knight.
Marysville Getchell (16-8) trailed by as many as 12 midway through the second quarter and Knight had just three points up to that point.
Knight finished the half with six more to power the Chargers on a 10-5 run.
“In the first half, we were kind of getting the nerves out still,” Knight said. “We were kind of flustered and by halftime we came in and made some adjustments. We told ourselves that in the first half we played pretty bad and for us to be down five is a blessing.”
That momentum carried into the second half as Marysville Getchell took a 27-26 lead with 2:28 remaining in the third quarter.
The two teams traded buckets for the final portion of the third and the start of the fourth, but Knight took over after from there.
With about three minutes remaining, the 6-foot-4 guard drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key and converted a three-point play to put Marysville Getchell up 44-38 with 2:35 remaining.
Meadowdale’s Cole Nelson finished through traffic to cut the Chargers’ lead to four, but junior forward Austin Townsend sank a pair of free throws and then drilled a corner 3-pointer to deliver a dagger to Meadowdale’s hopes for a state regional appearance.
A robust student section joined the team on the court to celebrate the school’s first state basketball berth in its nine years of existence.
“It’s just amazing,” Knight said. “There’s so many emotions. I mean, we’ve all been playing together since we were little kids. I’m just so happy right now.”
Meadowdale’s season ended with the loss. The Mavericks will graduate seven seniors, including starters Justin Jackson, Hunter Moen and Vaughn.
Knight added 14 rebounds to record a double-double. Townsend chipped in 16 points.
Leonardo Baquian led Meadowdale (13-11) with 13 points and Vaughn added 12.