MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — The Mountlake Terrace boys basketball team has set the standard in the Wesco 3A South the past two seasons. Both seasons the Hawks have advanced to the state tournament in Tacoma and last year, they took fourth place.
Meadowdale, on the other hand, is coming off of a season in which it won just four games.
It’s easy to say that’s all in the past, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. The most important thing the Hawks’ returning players have gained the past two seasons is experience playing in big games. Friday’s Wesco 3A season-opener between the Mavericks and the Hawks was a big game.
As it often does, experience won out as Mountlake Terrace stayed unbeaten and handed the Mavs their first loss, 57-44.
Though the Mavericks came up short, they earned the respect of Hawks’ coach Nalin Sood.
“I came into this game knowing that this was a good basketball team,” he said. “This is a team that can compete for the Wesco South, as everybody else in the league can. We weren’t going to overlook them. We were going to try to give them a stern test and they were going to give us one. This is the type of team you want to play.”
The Hawks jumped out to a 13-8 lead in the first quarter. The Mavericks answered with a 6-0 run, highlighted by a power move by senior Charlie White at the rim with just seconds remaining in the period, to take a 14-13 lead after one quarter. Though the score was close throughout, it was the Mavericks’ first and only lead of the game.
Like the Mavericks’ previous four opponents this season, Mountlake Terrace struggled with their full-court pressure early.
“We have guards that are seeing that for the first time,” Sood said. “We’ve just got to get better against that. I don’t care what you do unless you bring in our alumni that’s playing in college, you can’t simulate that. They maintain it, they sustain it really well.”
Mountlake Terrace regained the lead early in the second quarter after settling down against the Mavs’ smothering defense. The Hawks extended that lead to six with a baseline 3 by senior post Greg Bowman with 3:42 remaining in the half.
Again Meadowdale responded, cutting the deficit to one, 25-24 at halftime.
Neither team shot the ball particularly well in the game, but Meadowdale went ice cold in the third quarter – and Mountlake Terrace took advantage. Bowman and teammate Loren Lacasse each made 3s to open the second half and the Hawks quickly built a nine-point lead after an 8-0 run.
Meadowdale point guard Barrett Carlow answered with a pinpoint alley oop pass from beyond the 3-point line that senior post Jacob Perkins dunked to thrill the visiting Meadowdale crowd.
The excitement was short lived as Perkins’ highlight reel dunk was one of just two field goals Meadowdale managed in the third quarter.
“When things weren’t going well for us handling the ball and when things weren’t going well for us shooting the basketball, can we defend?” Sood said. “That’s probably what the difference was.”
After three quarters, Mountlake Terrace had built a 45-32 lead. Meadowdale closed the gap to six with a fourth-quarter run, but never got any closer even with the Hawks missing several free-throw attempts down the stretch.
“I think both teams set the game back in terms of free-throw shooting tonight,” Sood said. “I know there was a lot of people up there thinking either one of those guys can coach, but do they teach free throws?
“At that point of the game, everything changes,” Sood said. “The air changes, the noise changes. It’s just a different atmosphere. It seems like it’s a haze. And can you go make them at that time? It’s something we’ve got to work on, but I’m not going to emphasize it too much in the kids’ heads because than it’s like putting. You think about it too much.”
As bad as Terrace was from the line, shooting 10-for-20 in the game, Meadowdale was even worse, finishing 14-for-29. The Mavericks were even worse from the field, finishing 13-for-52.
“We need to have these type of games,” Meadowdale head coach Andy Streit said. “We’re going in and taking shots because we want to win so bad, but we need to kind of gather some experience to know how to beat a really good team.”
Lacasse led the Hawks with 17 and Bowman chipped in 14, but the biggest lift came from Mountlake Terrace’s other senior post, Yoel Tekle, who finished with 13.
“Every team has an x-factor,” Sood said. “Yoel has to be an x-factor for us.”
Barrett Carlow scored 16 to lead Meadowdale, but shot just 5-for-20 from the field.
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com. At Mountlake Terrace H.S.
Meadowdale 14 10 8 12 — 44
Mountlake Terrace 13 12 20 12 — 57
Meadowdale — Kenley Ackerman 1, Landon Hopkins 0, Charlie White 11, Malik Braxton 0, Barrett Carlow 16, Jacob Perkins 6, Collin Costello 6, Aaron Gurley 2, Aidan O’Neill 1, Caleb Tingstad 1. Mountlake Terrace — Isaiah Green 2, Prescott Day 3, Gabe Altenberger 2, Matthew Moisant 6, Greg Bowman 14, Loren Lacasse 17, Yoel Tekle 13. 3-point goals — Costello 2, Carlow 2, Bowman 3, Lacasse 3. Records — Meadowdale 0-1 league, 4-1 overall. Mountlake Terrace 1-0, 4-0.
— Matthew R. Guardiano (@MattGuardiano) December 14, 2013