LYNNWOOD — When the Meadowdale High School gym is nearly empty, and almost all of the boys’ basketball players have gone home, Colin Matteson can often be found putting in overtime.
Whether it’s before practice, afterward, or even during the summer months, the Meadowdale senior has always found time to work on his wide array of post moves.
"He’s a gym rat," said Chad McGuire, Meadowdale’s head boys’ basketball coach.
Staring at the possibility of falling into a first-place tie atop the Western Conference’s South Division, Matteson put his post moves to work at the perfect time Wednesday evening.
The 6-foot-7 forward sparked a 12-point Meadowdale run in the third quarter to help the Mavericks pull away from Kamiak for the win by a fairly misleading score of 53-37. Meadowdale (9-1, 8-0 in conference) dominated the second half after trailing by one point at halftime.
"It seemed like in that third quarter, it was really kicking into gear," said Matteson, who scored six of his 10 points during the pivotal period. "The guards do a great job of getting us the ball. Fantastic. I was getting open, and they were getting me the ball. It was great."
Matteson makes it sound easier than it looked. All three of his third-quarter field goals came with a defender on him, although the Kamiak big men were unable to stop his collection of post moves.
"He’s always been crafty in the post," McGuire said. "We’ve come to expect that from Colin."
It was far from a one-man show, as Jake Linton’s 14 points led all scorers, while Larod Lover, Danny Hagen and Taylor Marsh each added eight for the Mavericks.
The win helped Meadowdale open up its lead over the Knights (7-2, 5-2) in the Wesco South race.
Meadowdale was plagued by poor shooting in the first quarter and turnovers in the second quarter, yet trailed only 20-19 at halftime because of a solid defensive effort. Marsh had eight of the Mavericks’ points, while Blake Coleman had six to lead a balanced Kamiak effort.
Meadowdale’s start to the second half was inauspicious in that it included a turnover on the first possession and an ill-advised shot on the next. But the Mavericks eventually came alive in a big way. The 12-0 run turned a 23-23 tie into a comfortable 35-23 lead.
Matteson started things off with a nice spin move for a 25-23 lead, then made a nifty pass to Henry Faison, who was fouled on a layup and added a free throw for a traditional three-point play.
Matteson then hit a hook shot after getting stranded in the lane with no teammates open. The look-what-I-found bucket put Meadowdale ahead 30-23 with 2:09 remaining in the third quarter.
While Matteson provided the Mavericks’ spark, fellow senior Lover delivered the most devastating blow. He hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key — Lover’s only field goal of the game — to put Meadowdale up by 10.
Lover had a rough shooting night, getting his first four shots blocked, but the 5-foot-9 guard made up for it in other ways. Despite his stature, Lover led all players with 10 rebounds and led a defensive attack that foiled Kamiak’s high-powered offense.
"They’re a good team, and they had our number in the first half," said Lover, who scored five of his points from the free-throw line. "Coach (McGuire) told us we weren’t playing our game, so that’s what we did in the second half."
Matteson capped off the run with another strong post move.
Meadowdale’s big third quarter helped the Mavericks open up a 35-25 lead. Free throws in the fourth quarter, including eight by Linton, allowed Meadowdale to put the game away.
"We held Kamiak under 40 points, and that’s a huge accomplishment," McGuire said. "That was the key to the game. We didn’t give them any easy looks."
Steve Murphy and Gary Rogers scored eight points apiece to lead the Knights.
"I didn’t think we were doing anything offensively," Kamiak coach Jeff Leary said. "We weren’t attacking like we usually do. We weren’t there tonight, and I don’t know why."
Despite the loss and subsequent drop in the division, Leary said his team isn’t left fighting for second place in the division.
"We’re fighting for first," he said. "We’ll play them again. They still have to play (Mountlake) Terrace on Friday, and then we get to play them at home."
Meadowdale’s McGuire also played down the importance of the win.
"There’s a lot of basketball left to be played," he said.
Kamiak — Hermes 6, Martinez 5, Murphy 8, Rogers 8, Balch 4, Coleman 6.
Meadowdale — Lover 8, Marsh 8, Linton 14, Faison 4, Matteson 10, Hagen 8.
3-point goals — Kamiak 1 (Martinez); Meadowdale 2 (Lover, Marsh).
Records — Kamiak 7-2, 5-2 in Wesco South; Meadowdale 9-1, 8-0.
JV — Meadowdale 56, Kamiak 51