ANACORTES – No room for error, no problem for the Meadowdale boys basketball team.
Facing elimination after a close loss to No. 6 Bellingham on Saturday, the Mavericks played as if it were just another game, methodically building a lead and cruising to a 60-37 victory over Shorecrest in the Class 3A Northwest District consolation playoff game.
“It was all about taking care of business for us,” Meadowdale coach Chad McGuire said. “We may have looked relaxed out there, but we played hard and with a sense of purpose.”
Meadowdale will play Ferndale for the second time in the tournament, the first meeting won by the Mavericks, 70-47. They’ll meet again at 8 p.m. on Thursday at Mount Vernon High School. Win, and the Mavericks go to state. Lose, and its time for spring sports.
“Coming in we had confidence we would win,” Meadowdale senior LaRod Lover said. “But we knew we still had to play with some intensity and make a statement.”
Going strictly by records, this game should have never taken place.
But after a consolation-round win over Burlington-Edison Saturday, Shorecrest proved it was better than its 3-19 record indicated.
Chris Lindsey put Shorecrest ahead 2-0 to start the game, but a 7-0 run gave the Mavericks a 7-2 lead and they never fell behind again.
Shorecrest should have known it wasn’t going to be its night by the end of the first quarter. With 0.6 seconds to play in the first, a Scots player fouled Meadowdale’s Kevin Myhre on a desperation heave from behind the half-court line. Myhre made two of three free throw attempts to give the Mavericks a 12-9 lead.
Meadowdale took command of the game in the second quarter, led by the defensive quickness of Lover.
Lover scored six consecutive points during Meadowdale’s 10-0 run early in the second quarter to give the Mavericks a 22-11 lead, and the guard converted two steals into easy lay-ups.
“LaRod has such quick hands,” McGuire said. “Our lead jumped from six to 10 points just on his two steals. That enabled us to really take control of the game.”
Lover finished with 11 points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals for the Mavericks.
Colin Matteson provided a solid inside presence for Meadowdale, scoring a game-high 16 points on high-percentage shots down low.
“Colin is very crafty for a post player,” McGuire said. “He’ll see an opening and slide right in there. The guards did a really good job of getting the ball in to him.”
Despite having a 27-16 lead at halftime, the Mavericks could have put the game out of reach if they’d shot better from the free-throw line. Meadowdale made only five of 13 attempts from the line in the first half, salvaging the night with a 5-for-7 effort in the second half.
“It’s funny, because we couldn’t miss early in the year,” Lover said. “We practice those every day. We just need to get back to where we were early on.”
Jake Linton was slightly off his scoring average of 15 points per game with only 10 against Shorecrest, but made up for it with four assists. Taylor Marsh had seven points and three steals for the Mavericks, while teammate Daniel Stabbert contributed six rebounds and two blocks.
Chris Chase led Shorecrest with 12 points and Lindsey finished with nine points and five rebounds.
Matteson says the experience the team has from last year’s run at state gives it the confidence to return to the Tacoma Dome next week.
“We have a bunch of seniors who returned from last year, and we all provide leadership,” Matteson said. “We’re looking at it like whoever we have to beat to get to state we’ll beat.”
Shorecrest-Love 2, Franklin 2, Ewing 2, Boatsman 2, Booth 2, Chase 12, Acholonu 6, Lindsey 9. Meadowdale-Lover 11, Huffman 2, Marsh 7, Linton 10, Epler 4, Myhre 4, Faison 2, Stabbert 2, Matteson 16, Hagen 2. 3-point goals-Marsh 1, Linton 1, Chase 1. Records-Shorecrest: 3-20 overall. Meadowdale: 20-3.