LYNNWOOD – They knew it was coming. They didn’t know when it would happen, only that it most certainly would.
The Hawks of Mountlake Terrace High seemed well on their way to a decisive victory Tuesday night. They built a 14-point lead against the Meadowdale Mavericks and led by 12 to start the fourth quarter of a Western Conference South Division boys basketball game at the Meadowdale High gym.
Then, sure enough, IT happened.
Behind star guard Jake Linton’s 10 fourth-quarter points, the Mavs stormed back to within one point and pushed Terrace to the brink. But in a battle of red-hot teams, Mike Boxley and the Hawks had just enough to come away with a 47-44 victory.
Boxley, an energetic senior forward, came up with a key steal with five seconds to play and then made two clutch free throws. He scored all nine of his points in the second half to help first-place Terrace (12-1 Wesco South, 13-3 overall) win its eighth consecutive game.
“You can never count them out,” Boxley said of Meadowdale. “They’ve got too many shooters. … Jake (Linton) is a great shooter.”
Linton drained two of his five 3-point baskets in the fourth quarter en route to a game-high 21 points. He and the Mavericks surged back into the game by starting the fourth quarter with a 12-3 run. Terrace called a timeout with 2:45 to play after Meadowdale guard Demetri Huffman made a short jump shot to get the Mavs within 43-40.
“We were expecting that,” Boxley said of Meadowdale’s comeback. “(Mountlake Terrace coach Nalin Sood) always says you got to get ready to weather their run.”
Linton’s fourth consecutive made free throw of the fourth quarter got the Mavs within one point (45-44) with 1:34 to go, but they didn’t score another point despite some solid opportunities.
The score remained 45-44 until Linton drove the lane with 15 seconds remaining. Terrace’s Adrian Blake (nine points) poked the ball away and Boxley grabbed it and got fouled. With the Meadowdale home crowd doing its best psych-out job, Boxley calmly made two free throws.
After a quick inbounds pass and a timeout that advanced the ball to mid-court, Meadowdale had a final chance with four seconds to play. But Jordan McGinnis’ running 3-pointer from the right corner bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
The Mavericks (10-3, 12-3) ended their nine-game winning streak and slipped from second to third place in the league behind Terrace and Shorewood (11-2, 13-2). Meadowdale hadn’t lost since a 51-34 setback Dec. 17 at Terrace.
Senior guard Luke Hammond scored a team-high 10 points for Terrace, and was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line. Post Leigh Swanson scored eight points and Brad Balch tallied seven for the Hawks.
Mountlake Terrace’s Sood said his team strayed from its plan in the fourth quarter, particularly when the Hawks lost track of and/or fouled Linton. “We gotta capitalize against a team like Meadowdale,” Sood said.
“A lot of (the Mountlake Terrace players) got worse at a few things, a lot of them got better at a few things,” he continued. “I’m sure we’ll watch the tape and see where we need to make some improvements.”
Meanwhile, Linton said Meadowdale can build on what it accomplished Tuesday. “We know we can compete with the best,” he said. “Mountlake Terrace is one of the best teams in the state. … We had chances to win this game.”
M. Terrace-Balch 7, L. Hammond 10, Blake 9, Boxley 9, Swanson 8, Mundt 4. Meadowdale-Atcho 6, Hagen 4, McGinnis 4, Huffman 7, Linton 21, Rouse 2. 3-point goals-Balch, Blake 3, Linton 5. JV score-Meadowdale 66, M. Terrace 59. Records-M. Terrace 12-1 in league, 13-3 overall. Meadowdale 10-3, 12-3.