LYNNWOOD – Some players are clutch.
Coaches faithfully put the ball in their hands with everything on the line because the special ones thrive on the chance, the thrill to be the one. More often than not, they deliver.
Meet Larod Lover. Having scored just three points through three quarters of a Western Conference South Division boys basketball masterpiece against Mountlake Terrace, Meadowdale’s 5-10 senior guard showed why he’s a proud member of the Clutch Club.
Lover scored his team’s final six points, including two on a coast-to-coast power lay-in over the outstretched mitts of two taller Hawks defenders with two seconds remaining to boost the Mavericks to a thrilling 55-53 triumph Tuesday night over the Hawks.
Though Lover oozed confidence while executing the winning shot, he admitted even The Clutch have doubts. “It was drawn up to me,” Lover said, and when he released the shot “I closed my eyes.”
The Mavs, who improved to 1-0 in league and 1-1 overall, expected a battle from Mountlake Terrace. They got one, as the Hawks slowly rallied from an early 12-2 deficit.
“Terrace is a hard-nosed defensive team,” Lover said “They play us like that every year.”
“Terrace does just a great job of checking you man-to-man,” Meadowdale coach Chad McGuire said. “They really get into you and they force you to do things you don’t want to do.”
The Hawks played the Mavs even (38-38) from the beginning of the second quarter until Lover’s game-winner. “We kept our poise, we kept our poise,” McGuire repeated. “They make a run, and we knew they would, but we were able to maintain our poise.”
The victory was a perfect way to rebound from the Maverick’s 47-42 season-opening non-conference loss to Squalicum on Saturday, Lover added. “It feels real good. Our team expects us to win a lot of games.”
“I’m proud of our team,” McGuire said. “We bounced back after a tough loss on Saturday … and we responded well.”
Senior guard Taylor Marsh led Meadowdale with 17 points, including two 3-point field goals.
Danny Hagen, a junior transfer from La Conner, emerged as an impact player for Meadowdale. He scored 11 points, blocked five shots and stole Terrace’s last-chance full-court lob pass. “I was going to get the ball,” Hagen said of the play, “and I was going to hold on no matter what.”
Hagen’s play was intimidating, and so is his look. Equipped with a buzz cut, a black eye and a wrapped elbow, the surprising 6-5 post impressed McGuire, who said he had no idea Hagen would contribute so much so soon. “Everything that I’d heard about him was that he’s a great kid. And he is … a couple of big blocks. It was nice to see him play like that.”
Mike Boxley had an all-around spectacular game for the Hawks, piling up 15 points and snagging several big offensive rebounds during Terrace’s rally.
Guard Luke Hammond led Terrace with 16 points and Justynn Hammond, Luke’s cousin, added 10.
These teams meet again later this season, but Tuesday they played as if a state tournament berth was up for grabs. Check your local weather report, because entertained onlookers are already salivating.
MT-L. Hammond 16, J. Hammond 10, Mundt 6, Blake 2, Boxley 15, C. Hammond 4. M-Linton 7, Hagen 11, Marsh 17, Matteson 7, Lover 9, Stabbert 4. 3-point goals-Boxley 1, Marsh 2, Linton 1. JV score-M. Terrace 52, Meadowdale 46. Records-M. Terrace 1-1 in league and overall. Meadowdale 1-0, 1-1.