Mountlake Terrace’s Chris Meegan drives past a Mt. Spokane defender during a Class 3A Hardwood Classic quarterfinal game on Thursday at the Tacoma Dome. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Mountlake Terrace’s Chris Meegan drives past a Mt. Spokane defender during a Class 3A Hardwood Classic quarterfinal game on Thursday at the Tacoma Dome. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Mountlake Terrace boys’ title hopes dashed by Mt. Spokane

The Wildcats dominate the paint en route to a 70-45 quarterfinal victory over the Hawks at the Tacoma Dome.

TACOMA — From the opening tipoff it was clear the Mountlake Terrace boys basketball team was going to have its hands full with a long, athletic squad from Mt. Spokane.

The Wildcats pounded the paint with a combination of drives straight to the hoop and smooth and efficient ball movement that set up high-percentage looks near the hoop. Terrace simply didn’t have any answers.

On the other side of the ball, Mt. Spokane’s length created problems and forced the Hawks into 14 turnovers and a number of tough shots.

The end result was a thorough whooping handed out by the Wildcats.

Seventh-seeded Mt. Spokane scored a whopping 58 points in the paint and used a balanced scoring attack with four players in double figures as it dispatched ninth-seeded Terrace 70-45 in a Class 3A Hardwood Classic quarterfinal game Thursday at the Tacoma Dome.

“We just never got our footing,” Hawks coach Nalin Sood said. “We never got the stops we wanted to get. We never got the key rebounds and we just had some breakdowns where they got a couple baskets and they got high-percentage baskets inside the paint.”

The Wildcats shot 56.4% (31 of 55) from the field while seemingly getting to the basket at will all game long. Perhaps the most telling stat of Mt. Spokane’s dominant performance was the fact the Wildcats attempted just five 3-pointers all game. Mt. Spokane finished with a 58-22 advantage on points in the paint.

“Even if you cut that in half, they still won in the paint,” Sood said. “They’re not a bad matchup for us. They’re just a good basketball team, and we weren’t able to keep them out of the paint. Their guards got in early … In the second half, they went to their bigs and their bigs sort of got the ball and had their ways with us.”

Xavier Kamalu-Vargas scored 16 points and dished out six assists, David Roe added 12 points, Maverick Sanders posted a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds and Ryan Lafferty chipped in 10 points for Mt. Spokane (22-5).

The Wildcats face No. 4 Rainier Beach in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Zaveon Jones had 16 points and six rebounds and Jeffrey Anyimah added 11 points to pace Terrace (19-3), which lost for the first time since a one-point defeat against Stanwood on Jan. 20.

The Hawks play No. 6 Gig Harbor in a consolation game Friday at 10:30 a.m.

“We’re pretty good at keeping guys out of the paint. We’re pretty good with our stout defense that leads to our offense,” Sood said. “We weren’t tonight for some reason, but part of it is not everything’s us. You’ve got to give (Mt. Spokane) credit also for what they do.”

The Wildcats never trailed after Sanders hit a free throw for a 5-4 lead at the 6:08 mark of the first. That came in the middle of an 16-2 Mt. Spokane run that started early in the first and ran through the end of the period.

Vito Mkrtychyan scored five points during a 7-0 Terrace run that made it 20-15 midway through the second, but that’s as close as the Hawks would ever get. The Wildcats called a timeout and answered back with 14 straight points on their way to a 34-17 halftime lead.

Jones and Anyimah each picked up their third foul during that second-quarter Mt. Spokane run, dealing a major blow to Terrace.

“We were right there and we just never got a rhythm going,” Sood said. “We never got a couple baskets to give us (some energy). We need the energy.”

The Wildcats came out strong again in the third, netting 15 of the quarter’s first 18 points for a 49-20 lead. Anyimah’s 3-pointer was the only bucket Terrace got over the first 5:05 of the third.

Jones capped a 7-0 run with a pair of free throws to pull Terrace within 49-27 late in the third, but the Hawks couldn’t get any closer.

“The kids are more disappointed than I am right now,” Sood said. “I’m disappointed, obviously, but I’m not disappointed with these kids by any means. I wish we had a better effort, but I look forward to going and coaching them (Friday) and seeing if we can still get to Saturday.”

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