MOUNT VERNON — Sometimes basketball is a tale of two halves.
That was the story for the Mountlake Terrace High School boys basketball team Tuesday night.
After leading for almost the entirety of the first half, the Hawks couldn’t quite outlast two-time defending Class 2A state champion Lynden.
The Lions outscored Mountlake Terrace 20-9 in the third quarter and Brock Heppner sparked Lynden by scoring 14 of his 16 points in the second half to help lead Lynden to a 58-49 victory over the Hawks in a winner-to-state Class 2A Northwest/Sea-King Bi-District Tournament semifinal clash.
It’s the ninth consecutive state regional appearance for Lynden.
“They’re good. They’re a good basketball team. They’re gonna make plays,” Mountlake Terrace coach Nalin Sood said. “Just as much as they made plays, we had opportunities to make plays and we didn’t. We missed some shots that we’d like to get back. We didn’t end the first half on a good note, and that gave them some momentum.”
The Lions (20-2) never led until Heppner sank a pair of free throws to take a 38-37 lead with 2:34 left in the third quarter. Heppner’s foul shots came in the midst of an 11-0 run that put Lynden up 45-37.
The Hawks (17-5) kept things close and never trailed by double digits, but couldn’t muster a late comeback.
Mason Christianson’s 3-point shot at the 2:49 mark of the fourth quarter cut the Hawks’ deficit to 53-49, but Lynden hit 5 of 8 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Mountlake Terrace broke a 9-9 tie in the first quarter with a 16-4 run, capped by a rebound and full-court sprint to the hoop for a lay-in by Muhammed Kinteh, to take a 25-13 lead at the 5:25 mark of the second quarter.
Lynden chipped away at the lead and pulled with 30-25 after a pair of free throws by Liam Hanenburg with 5.7 seconds remaining in the half capped a 10-2 scoring run.
“That was important,” Roper said. “It was a great team effort.”
Hanenburg scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half. The 6-foot-11 center helped keep Mountake Terrace out of the paint with his size on the defensive end and proved to be mismatch that the Hawks had problems with despite a solid defensive effort from junior Jace Breakfield. The 6-foot-6 post drew the defensive matchup on Hanenburg most of the evening and came up with a key block on Hanenburg late in the fourth when Mountlake Terrace needed a defensive stop.
Christianson led Mountlake Terrace with 12 points and Breakfield added 10.
The Hawks never trailed over the game’s first 16 minutes.
Mountlake Terrace faces Liberty in a loser-out game Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Mount Vernon High School.
“Wash this. You can’t live in sorrow. You can’t live in misery,” Sood said of his postgame message to his team. “The sun will come up tomorrow and now it’s back to Thursday. That’s really what I said to them. I kept it short. I kept brief. It’s disappointing, but you gotta move on. It’s not about process anymore. It’s about going and being successful in your next games. That’s all we can talk about.”
“I have a lot of respect for Coach Sood,” Roper said. “… His team is really tough, and like us they’re a little bit young. Perhaps they got a little bit worn down, but he’s a class guy and a helluva basketball coach.”