LYNNWOOD – Just when the Meadowdale Mavericks were searching for light at the end of the tunnel, Milan Moncrief powered up brightly.
The senior forward converted two put-back baskets in the span of 30 seconds late in the fourth quarter to spark the host Mavericks to a 51-39 triumph over the Mariner Marauders in a Western Conference South Division boys basketball game Tuesday night.
“He was making senior plays,” Meadowdale coach Chad McGuire said. “When they were making their run, as we knew they would, Milan stepped up and made some hustle plays when we really needed it.”
Moncrief’s late antics quelled a spirited 18-3 Mariner run that brought the Marauders back from an 18-point deficit to within 38-35 with just over three minutes remaining in the contest.
Coming on the heels of two consecutive double-digit losses to open division play, the victory was especially critical for Meadowdale.
“When they were making their run we huddled and said we can’t go 0-3,” Moncrief said.
Instead, Moncrief’s 18 points and 10 rebounds – both game highs – ensured the Mavericks would improve to 1-2 in the division and 3-2 overall.
Mariner, which also came up short after falling behind by 15 points at home against Jackson last Friday, dropped to 2-2, 2-3.
Caleb Law’s 3-pointer from deep in the right coffin corner, followed by a free throw by Matt Johnson gave Meadowdale its biggest lead, 35-17, with 2:14 remaining in the third quarter.
But, Mariner – cold from the floor for most of the game to that point – scrambled back behind Jerrel Grant who scored 10 of his team-high 14 points during the 18-3 run.
He capped the comeback bid with slashing drives for a pair of 3-point plays and an off-balance shot in heavy traffic.
“Grant’s tough to guard,” McGuire said. “He goes inside out on you.”
Grant’s bucket with 3:33 to play brought the Mariners to within 38-35 and left the Mavericks looking for answers.
Moncrief responded with a put-back off of Law’s errant 3-point attempt at the three-minute mark.
Mariner failed to score on its next possession, which set the stage for Moncrief’s second put-back in the paint with 2:30 to play.
“As a senior leader I knew I needed to find some way to score,” Moncrief said.
The Marauders missed on their next scoring chance and Nero Threet, a senior forward who scored 12 points, banked in a shot in the lane to build the Meadowdale lead to nine points with 2:13 left.
Threet dropped in five of six free throws to help close out the Marauders.
Law, also a senior, collared eight rebounds to go along with five points.
Paul Werner made two 3-pointers in the first half to help propel the Mavericks to a 24-15 lead.
Mariner coach Dexter Griffen was disappointed in yet another slow start by his team.
“It took us three quarters to get going last time out and it took three quarters tonight,” Griffen said. “We just can’t be digging these holes and trying to come back.”
At Meadowdale H.S.
Mariner-J. Dillon 8, T. Dillon 2, Grant 14, Bastys 9, Purnell 6. Meadowdale-O’Neill 2, Clampitt 1, Moncrief 18, Njoku 4, Werner 6, Threet 12, Law 5, Johnson 3. 3-point goals-J. Dillon 1, Grant 1, Werner 2, Law 1. JV result-Meadowdale 58, Mariner 22. Records-Mariner 2-2 in division, 2-3 overall. Meadowdale 1-2, 3-2.