TACOMA — In their final trip to the boys 3A state playoffs Meadowdale seniors Connor Hamlett and Riley Neff-Warner wanted to do something fun and different before the tournament began.
They decided to get funny haircuts.
While many players at the Tacoma Dome had a similar idea, some going with a faux hawk. Hamlett jokingly described his new ‘do as a “white-boy flattop.”
After dropping their first game of the tournament to undefeated and No. 1 Enumclaw Wednesday, the seniors got to have plenty of fun Thursday, dispatching Foster (Tukwila) 55-43 to remain alive for a state trophy.
“It was really nice (to get the win),” said Hamlett, who recorded his second straight double-double . “We had a tough match yesterday. I knew it was going to hurt until we won today. So now we won; we can still get fifth in state. It feels great right now.”
In the early going, the Mavs looked as flat as the senior duo’s haircuts.
It seemed like Meadowdale may not make it to Friday after falling behind 10-2 midway through the first quarter before coach Chad McGuire had to call a timeout.
“We came out flat,” Hamlett said, “and then we brought it. We said, ‘this can’t be our last game. We’ve got to come out and play like we know we are one of the best teams in the state.’ We got fired up and got a win.”
The Mavs immediately went on a 14-2 run that spanned parts of the first two quarters, giving Meadowdale (20-7) its first lead of the game. Hamlett got a transition layin to start the spurt. It was the first of his game-high 30 points in 29 minutes of action.
For the most part, the Bulldogs (16-10) could only watch as Hamlett shredded their defense both with scoring and passes to the perimeter.
“He’s fun to watch,” McGuire said. “When he touches the ball good things happen. Obviously he scores but he’s also a very good passer.”
The Bulldogs got a big first half from their own 6-foot-8 senior. Darius Page sank five of nine shots for 10 points before the break.
Since Foster had no other significant offensive threats early, the Mavs doubled Page in the second half. They harassed him into seven turnovers on the day and he shot just 3-for-8 in the second half. Page did lead the team with 19 points and had a game-high 11 rebounds.
Foster’s Cameron Faison (12 points) scored eight straight early in the third quarter to keep the game within two possessions, but the Mavs opened the fourth with a 9-2 spurt and the Bulldogs ran out of gas down the stretch as their shots just did not fall.
“Both today and last night our shots just weren’t dropping,” said first-year Bulldog coach Mike Broom whose team didn’t connect on a single 3-point attempt.
The Mavs advance to another loser-out contest Friday with Renton, which was a 45-41 victor over Mt. Rainier. The winner of that is guaranteed at worst eighth place. Two more wins would mean the best finish in Meadowdale history.
At the Tacoma Dome
Meadowdale—Neff-Warner 3, Casper 0, Linton 3, Werner 7, Beucherie 5, Tallman 3, Gage 0, Dooley 0, Sand 2, Buck 0, Hamlett 30, Spade 2. Foster—Hicks Camacho 0, Osman 0, Moi Moi 0, Cooper 0, Faison 12, Williams 8, Laciste 0, Cortes 4, Suta 0, Tausinga 0, Page 19, Dotson 0. 3-point goals— Linton 1, Werner 1, Tallman 1. Records—Meadowdale 20-7 overall. Foster 16-10.