SEATTLE — One day after falling behind early and watching a comeback attempt fall short, Meadowdale played the role of frontrunner.
Playing with a lead in their loser-out game of the Class 3A State Tournament was a nice change of pace for the ninth-ranked Mavericks, who held on for a 52-48 win over No. 4 Mercer Island.
“Yeah, that was a nice change,” said Meadowdale coach Chad McGuire, whose team trailed Lakes the entire game in a first-round loss.
Meadowdale (23-5) faces sixth-ranked Renton (22-4) at 10:30 a.m. today in a loser-out game at KeyArena. A win today would guarantee a top-eight finish for the Mavericks, who finished sixth in both 2003 and 2004.
In its first-round loss to Lakes, Meadowdale fell behind 8-0 and 20-12 after one quarter, and while the Mavs were able to make a game of it, they were never able to overcome Lake’s early lead. The tables turned Friday at KeyArena, as Meadowdale jumped to an 11-5 lead after one quarter.
Matt Gorman scored 12 of his team-high 17 points in the first half as Meadowdale built a 23-17 lead through two quarters.
Meadowdale’s lead topped out at 31-23 with 5 minutes, 30 second left in the third quarter, but the Islanders still had a comeback in them.
Trailing by eight, Mercer Island (22-5) went on a 12-1 run to build a three-point lead late in the third quarter. Paul Werner, who finished with nine points for the Mavs, ended that run with a 3-pointer, but Drew Sexton answered with a 3 of his own to give Mercer Island a three-point lead heading to the fourth quarter.
The game went back-and-forth early in the fourth quarter until a Werner 3 at the 4:38 mark put Meadowdale ahead for good. Sexton, who made six of nine 3s and finished with a game-high 22 points, drained a 3 with less than a minute to play to cut Meadowdale’s lead to one, but Jake Clampitt hit a pair of free throws and Roger O’Neill hit one of two to preserve the win.
“We’ve responded well all year to adversity,” said McGuire. “They made a nice run at us I thought we did a nice job of keeping our composure and then making a run right back at them. I thought that was important.”
In addition to leading his team in scoring, Gorman, a 6-foot-3 senior post made one of the defensive plays of the game, coming up with a steal late in the fourth quarter with Meadowdale clinging to a 48-45 lead.
“We knew that they were going to make their run, so we just had to weather the storm and then take our turn and make our run,” said Gorman, who scored 11 of his 17 points at the free-throw line on 11-for-16 shooting. “We like to always play from ahead. Yesterday we just weren’t able to make a run, and today we did at the end. We got hot at the right time and took it from there.”
Mercer Island, which won the KingCo Conference and was second to top-ranked Rainier Beach in the tough Sea-King 3A District Tournament, made a surprisingly quick exit from this year’s tournament. After struggling to knock down shots in their first-round loss to Columbia River, the Islanders started cold again Friday, making just 26.1 percent of their first-half field goals as Meadowdale took the lead.
“As a team we were all a lot better,” Mercer Island coach Ed Pepple said of his team’s regular-season play compared to its two-day showing at state. “Unfortunately, I have no answer to why we didn’t play well in the tournament, because it wasn’t a lack of hard work, it wasn’t a lack of preparation on the assistant coaches part; they did a marvelous job of preparing them. For some reason we got out there and we just weren’t ourselves. That happens sometimes.”
Mercer Island—Hansen, Misra, Morse 4, Sexton 22, Lutu 14, Shoemaker, Zahniser, Schut 8, Rasmussen, Gala. Meadowdale—O’Neill 7, Clampitt 6, Nelson, Gorman 17, Church, Werner 9, Dooley 2, Beeson 2, Epstein, Hamlett 2, Matteson 7. 3-point goals—Sexon 6, Werner 3. Records—Mercer Island 22-5 overall, Meadowdale 23-5.