MOUNT VERNON — Make that two in a row for the Meadowdale boys.
Senior Roger O’Neill scored 16 points and Meadowdale went on a 20-5 run to close out the game and defeat Lynnwood 36-21 in the 3A District 1 championship game Thursday at Mount Vernon High School, locking up its second trip to state in two years.
“I’m happy for our seniors,” Meadowdale head coach Chad McGuire said after the game. “We graduated nine seniors last year. A lot of these guys had to wait their turn.”
This time Meadowdale, which was District 1’s second seed in 2008, goes to state as district champions. A draw to determine Meadowdale’s opponent at state will occur Sunday.
Lynnwood plays Shorecrest in a winner-to-state, loser-out game Saturday at 8 p.m. at Mount Vernon High School. Shorecrest defeated Mount Vernon 39-37 on Thursday to ensure a matchup with Lynnwood and guarantee that both district seeds to state will be from the Wesco conference.
“It’s pretty cool,” McGuire said. “The Wesco is pretty tough.”
“It’s the first time the program has been here since 2003,” O’Neill said of playing for the championship. “It was our goal to win the (Wesco South) and we got a share of that. It was our goal to win districts, now we’ve got to go to the T-Dome and make some noise.”
It was an extraordinarily low-scoring, defensive game. Both teams struggled to crack double digits by half time, with Meadowdale holding a slim 12-11 advantage at the break. Lynnwood and Meadowdale combined to produce a total of six blocks or steals in the second quarter alone.
“Our defense has been the pride of our team all year,” O’Neill said. “We’re lucky our defense held us up at the beginning.”
Lynnwood, the Wesco No. 4 seed, looked in perfect position to pull off its third straight upset of the tournament when center Simi Fajemisin converted an up-and-under reverse layup plus a free throw to tie the score at 16-16 with 4:20 remaining in the third quarter.
But Meadowdale senior post Kris Larson answered with his own three-point play on the other end, drawing Fajemisin’s third personal and forcing him to sit.
Meadowdale’s O’Neill hit a 3-pointer to open the third quarter and scored seven points in the quarter, including Meadowdale’s last four points to hand the Mavericks a 24-16 advantage entering the fourth.
That lead proved insurmountable for Lynnwood, which did not score in double digits in any of the four quarters. Meadowdale outscored Lynnwood 20-5 over the final 12 minutes and 20 seconds of game to run away with the victory.
For the game, Meadowdale converted 12 of 16 free throw attempts to protect its advantage. Lynnwood converted seven of 14 attempts.
Meadowdale forced Fajemisin into two quick fouls to start the game. The center picked up his second foul with 3:22 remaining in the first quarter and sat for the rest of the half.
“We wanted to go right at the big fella,” O’Neill said. “… He’s such a force down there.”
Fajemisin led Lynnwood scorers with eight points. Lynnwood senior Aaron Matzen, who scored 19 points in Lynnwood’s upset of Glacier Peak in the semifinals, was held to five points.
“The key for us was getting in the flow (offensively),” McGuire said. “… Once O’Neill hit that 3-pointer to open the third quarter, everyone (breathed a little easier.)”
At Mount Vernon H.S.
Lynnwood — Bryant 1, Evans 3, Milne 0, Elder 0, Daniel 0, Wilson 0, Meinken 2, Steelquist 0, Matzen 5, Alexander 0, Fajemisin 8. Meadowdale — O’Neill 16, Neff-Warner 0, Johnson 0, Beucherie 0, Shiferaw 0, Surur 3, Coleman 0, Kyobe 3, Carroll 0, Hamlett 8, Larson 6 Sand 0. 3-pointers — O’Neill 1, Surur 1, Evans 1. Records — Lynnwood 13-12. Meadowdale 20-4.