EDMONDS — The sample size may be small, but Tuesday night the Mountlake Terrace boys basketball team proved that they have at least one thing in common with last year’s team that went 19-1 in the regular season and made it to the 3A state tournament.
They are pretty good.
The Hawks relied on a great defensive effort to defeat Edmonds-Woodway 61-42 in the season-opener for both teams.
The Warriors were picked by the 4A Wesco South coaches to finish second in the league behind Jackson this season largely because of the presence of post Travis Bakken and point guard Devin Joseph, but Bakken and Joseph combined to score just seven points on Tuesday.
“Their names made the white board before the game,” Mountlake Terrace head coach Nalin Sood said. “It’s as simple as that. They are two guys that we have a lot of respect for them, so you better go after them because they can go out there and turn the basketball game around if you’re not dialed in defensively to what you need to do.”
Edmonds-Woodway head coach Steve Call said that the physical nature of the Mountlake Terrace defense gave his team problems, specifically Bakken and Joseph.
“They were strong and physical,” Call said. “They have a strong presence inside and (Travis) again struggled from the inside and part of that is they played really tough on him. They were able to stop the dribble drive against Devin. They played solid defense on us.”
Sood makes it no secret that his teams like to hang their hat on defense and the Hawks established the defensive tone early, holding the Warriors to just four points in the first quarter. Edmonds-Woodway’s first points of the game came from Henry Olson with nearly six minutes gone in the first quarter.
“We try to hang our hats on defense and I think for the most part we didn’t do too bad of a job on that,” Sood said. “We will get better as we keep working our way at it.”
With players like Ryan Shannon and Coby Russell gone, there are a select few Mountlake Terrace players that are needed to provide offense to help the team go. Tuesday, the player that stepped up was Greg Bowman, who finished the game with 22 points and 17 rebounds, six of which came on the offensive glass.
“I don’t want to say Greg can do that every night because you never know how basketball games go and how your matchups go, but between him and Loren (Lacasse) hopefully one of them can get freed up for some baskets,” Sood said. “The nice thing to see is that (Bowman) went and rebounded the ball really well and that’s controllable. Sometimes you can’t control your shot and I think he had over 20, but he really worried about the controllables. He worried about rebounding. He worried about playing good defense and he worried about being a gazelle up and down the court.”
Sood said Bowman and a few others will be key to just how far the Hawks can go this season.
“There are a few guys on this team, Greg included — as that player goes so goes this basketball team,” Sood said. “I think if we are going to be a good basketball team Greg has to show up every night and really, really compete. Tonight, stats aside, he competed.”
The bright spot for the Warriors’ offense was Jason Smarr, who finished with 18 points, including three 3-pointers, and kept his team in the game in the first half. Call said he believe the junior will play a big role in the Warriors’ offense as the season progresses.
“As a junior this year, I think he will be one of our really top players this year,” Call said. “He attacks the hoop well, shoots the ball well, rebounds well, so we are looking forward to good things from him.”
For the Hawks, it was a good way to start the season, but Sood said the team has a long way to go.
“It’s a start for us, whether you are successful with a win or a loss at least you have some assessment,” Sood said. “That’s the biggest thing is that now we can say, ‘Here is what we need to work on.’ I think as coaches we found 100 things that we need to work on, which that is part of why you coach.”
The task for the Warriors is to shake off the defeat and the early season jitters and get back to work.
“I want us to fight,” Call said. “I want us to play really physical and match up with that style of play. So hopefully that gets us going.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com. At Edmonds-Woodway H.S.
Mountlake Terrace—Jesse Zerom 2, Yohans Tewolde 0, Michael Lotz 13, Marquis Armstead 14, Greg Bowman 22, LeTrae Sarden 0, Loren Lacasse 10, Yoel Tekle 0. Edmonds-Woodway—Devin Joseph 5, Alex Hull 0, Brad Rice 7, Luke Langdale 5, Tate Budnick 0, Sam Wooley 0, Theo Lebesis 0, Ibro Polovino 0, Jason Smarr 18, Travis Bakken 2, Henry Olson 5. 3-point goals—Lotz 3, Armstead 2, Rice 1, Smarr 3. Records—Mountlake Terrace 1-0, Edmonds-Woodway 0-1.