LYNNWOOD — The thrill resulting from Meadowdale ending a six-year postseason drought could be summed up by Meadowdale junior Daniel Barhoum’s declaration.
“We broke the curse,” he said with a smile.
Six years of absence from the district tournament for some may not warrant a curse-worthy tag, but given how the Mavs fell short a year ago, the term felt fitting.
“Last year we were in a similar situation in a play-in game,” Barhoum explained. “Close game, we got off to a big lead. We actually lost it in the second half.”
Not this time.
With another opportunity to earn a breakthrough of major importance to the Meadowdale basketball program, the Mavs didn’t falter.
With key contributions from Barhoum, Xavier Meekins and Justin Chambers, Meadowdale built a double-digit halftime lead against visiting Snohomish. The Mavericks put the Panthers away in the second half, earning a 66-54 win Friday night and the chance to play Shorecrest in the opening round of the Class 3A District Tournament at 7 p.m. Saturday at Shorecrest High School.
“It’s the first time getting to districts since 2011, so we are excited,” Mavericks coach Roger O’Neill said. “I thought we played really, really hard tonight and followed the game plan for the most part.”
That game plan involved using the Meadowdale’s length in order to attack the rim and strong rebounding against an undersized Panthers team.
The Mavericks (7-13) did just that with the trio of Barhoum, Meekins and Chambers — all 6-foot-3 players with good length and athleticism. Barhoum finished with a game-high 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists, Chambers added 14 points and Meekins had 11 points to go with seven boards.
“We can get pretty-darn long on the court and use that to our advantage,” O’Neill said. “Guys are having fun, they’re playing hard and being coachable, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
And O’Neill believes his Mavs are peaking at the perfect time.
Meadowdale led by as much as 21 points in the fourth quarter, but Snohomish (5-16), which was led by Kole Bride’s 15 points, held a 16-15 lead over the Mavericks early in the second quarter.
But Barhoum started taking over, slashing to the basket and getting easy layups, and the junior scored eight points during an 18-6 Meadowdale run that lasted the final 5:30 of the second quarter.
Despite the big lead, the Mavs continued to rally in the second half, remembering the disappointment of a year ago.
“Once we got off to that big lead, senior captains Drew Tingstad, Xavier Meekins, Zach Walsh and Zach Plummer were in our ears saying, ‘Finish the game. Finish the game,’” Barhoum said.
Turnovers cost Snohomish throughout, and when Bride exited with foul fouls early in the third quarter, the Panthers’ deficit swelled.
Meadowdale led 58-37 with 4:40 to play, but Snohomish battled back, trimming the Mavericks’ lead to 62-54 with 1:29 to go, but the effort proved to be too little too late.