LYNNWOOD — Taylor Marsh knows his chances of winning a game of H-O-R-S-E take a dive when Anne Martin takes aim from well outside the 3-point line.
Marsh, an accomplished 3-point shooter for the Meadowdale boys basketball team, can certainly hit his fair share from way out there. Martin, the starting shooting guard the last four seasons for the Meadowdale girls, rarely misses, however — especially if she’s a Marsh ‘E’ away from victory.
Though there is some disagreement between the two close friends about who leads the overall standings, both are among several players on the state playoff-bound Meadowdale boys and girls teams who can regularly hit the 3-point shot.
Both teams hope a few long shots mixed in with some strong post play will put the Mavericks on paths toward Class 3A boys and girls championships when the tournaments begin today at the Tacoma Dome. The Meadowdale boys (21-3) will open the four-day event against White River (20-4) at 9 a.m. The girls (22-1) are scheduled to play Blanchet (17-10) at 2 p.m.
Martin insists her late surge — due in part to some recent rule changes limiting Marsh’s left-handed shots — has put her ahead of Marsh.
"I don’t know, I think I’ve got a slight edge," said Marsh, who averages 9.4 points per game.
"We’ve had some pretty exciting games," said Martin, who has made 34.2 percent of her 3-point attempts this season. "It gets pretty intense. I think I’m winning right now, actually."
Both will be tested this week in the shot-wrecking confines of a big wooden cavern known as the Tacoma Dome. Both Meadowdale teams feature an inside-outside attack. Both utilize as many as five shooters who are dangerous behind the 3-point arc. All of them will be needed in a place that can be cruel to even the finest horsemen.
At one end of the dome, a black curtain separates the boys court from the girls. At the other, the hoop seems like the center of the universe. Accustomed to a depth perception-aiding wall a few feet behind high school gym hoops, shooters sometimes struggle to find their shots in the open air. Fatigue becomes a factor on the third and fourth days of the tournament, when the spring in the step in gone along with the air in the jump shot.
By then, the opposing student body has the (A-I-R-B-A-L-L, A-I-R-B-A-L-L) chant perfectly synchronized.
Some say the perception of the Dome as a shooters’ black hole is only a myth. After her team shot 27 percent in a double-overtime loss to Black Hills to ruin the Meadowdale girls’ perfect season last year, Blair isn’t so sure.
"Back to our Black Hills game, I’d have to say it’s a fact," chuckled Blair, whose teams have qualified for state nine years in a row. "Certain ends are tougher to shoot at. When you have that curtain there is that backdrop that helps a little bit. When you’re shooting at the other end it makes it a little bit harder to get your bearings."
Meadowdale boys coach Chad McGuire saw positive signs from his team last year. The Mavericks advanced to the semifinals in part because of their ability to find success in the abyss.
"We don’t buy into that," McGuire said. "You go through warmups and get some shots up so you can adjust. We didn’t notice any difference."
Marsh, Jake Linton and Larod Lover give the Mavericks a deadly trey trio. The three have combined to make 119 3-point shots this season. Kevin Myhre, who generally checks into games late in the first quarter, gives the team another option. Starting post player Colin Matteson has also been known to step out and hit one on occasion. The Mavericks know it will be important to make teams pay for attempting to shut down Matteson and Danny Hagen under the basket. A few 3-point daggers, they believe, will give the big guys some room to work.
"If (Matteson and Hagen) are having a good game, then teams are going to have to try to stop them," said Linton, who began perfecting his shot with his father’s help at age 3. "Once we start hitting our threes, there’s nothing they can do."
Martin, who holds the school’s 3-point records for a career (190), season (64) and game (six), is one of many 3-point options for the Lady Mavs. Martin, Ashley Fenimore, Kristine Marte and freshman Marelle Moehrle are all hitting better than 28 percent of their 3-point shots. Senior forward Quinn Brewe doesn’t take them often, but her 4 of 11 shooting gives her a team-best 36.4 percent.
Martin watched her sister Leslie win a state title with Meadowdale in 2000 at KeyArena. Martin and Blair both recalled a 3-point shot by Kristin O’Neill that proved to be the final dagger for Blanchet — the same school the Meadowdale girls will play today — in the Mavericks’ 40-33 victory in the Class 3A state championship game.
Both Meadowdale teams hope a few like that one will take them a long way.