SNOHOMISH – The Meadowdale Mavericks came into the postseason with every reason to be whooping, hollering and justifiably up on their high horse after an impressive string of six consecutive victories.
But, they quickly found themselves up to their necks in beef cattle in a 4A District 1 playoff game against the Snohomish Panthers, who used their formidable frontline to ride herd over the Mavericks and claim a 60-44 victory Wednesday night.
With the triumph, Snohomish (19-2), the No. 2 seed from the Wesco North, advanced to a winner-to-state game against Jackson at 8 p.m. Saturday at Jackson High School.
“This team has a lot of good basketball left to play,” Snohomish coach Len Bone told his team afterwards. “We can’t get satisfied.”
Unlike last season when Snohomish ended Meadowdale’s season with a 56-53 overtime victory in a winner-to-state, loser-out game in the district playoffs, the Mavericks remain very much alive for one of three coveted state berths.
The Mavericks (13-8), the No. 3 seed from the Wesco South, will take on Stanwood in a loser-out contest at 2 p.m. Saturday at Jackson High School.
Double-double performances inside by the Panthers’ Tim Diederichs (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Zach Wilde (17 points, 12 rebounds), along with the 10 points and five rebounds contributed by Nate VanDuine sealed the Mavericks fate.
“We knew they were scrappy and would really hustle to the ball,” VanDuine said. “We knew we needed to use our bodies and block out.”
Wilde sank a pair of NBA-length 3-pointers and nailed a baseline jumper to help the Panthers establish an 11-7 first-quarter lead.
Yusuf Surur’s jump shot in the lane brought Meadowdale within 11-9 in the opening moments of the second quarter, but Snohomish stampeded the Mavericks with a 9-0 run to open an 11-point lead with 5:00 to play in the first half.
Two free throws by Diederichs started the streak, two free throws by Wilde capped it and in between came five points inside by VanDuine.
Meadowdale cut the deficit to single digits, 23-14, on John Rouse’s leaner in the lane.
But Snohomish answered with a searing 13-0 blitz book-ended by Tanner Jenkins’ inside move and Nate Sooter’s weak-side put-back at the buzzer, which made the score 36-14 at halftime.
Between those two buckets came a long 3-pointer by Josh Desimone and six points from Diederichs – including a put-back and a lay-in off a dazzling pass from VanDuine.
“We were good on defense and we’re finally completing passes and making shots,” Bone said. “Still, some of our passing decisions need to get better and I don’t know if we can in two days.”
Wilde (12), Diederichs (10) and VanDuine (seven) combined to account for 29 of the Panthers first-half points.
“They have big bodies and are really athletic,” Meadowdale coach Chad McGuire said. “They did a great job of going at us, especially in the first half.”
Point guard Seth Follis, who averages more than 11 points per game for Snohomish, did not score until midway through the third quarter, but the Panthers were fine.
“It’s been that way all year,” VanDuine said. “Somebody always steps up if we need offense.”
Diederichs scored twice inside in the opening minute of the second half to put Snohomish ahead 40-14 and a thundering jam on a breakaway by Wilde gave the Panthers a 48-21 lead, their biggest margin in the game.
Still, no-quit Meadowdale tried to battle back.
“They were very scrappy and stayed aggressive and tough the whole way,” Bone said of the Mavericks.
Slashing baskets by Robel Kidanu, who led the Mavericks with 10 points, helped Meadowdale close to the final margin.
“We couldn’t keep anybody in front of him, especially in the fourth quarter,” Bone said.
“Our kids kept fighting and scrapping in the second half,” McGuire said. “I was proud of our team’s effort.”
At Snohomish H.S.
Meadowdale-Moncrief 9, Kidanu 10, Marsh 6 Threet 4, Johnson 2, Law 4, Rouse 7, Surur 2. Snohomish-Follis 2, Shilling 5, Diederichs 18, Wilde 17, Desimone 6, Jenkins 2, VanDuine 10. 3-point goals-Marsh 2, Wilde 2, Desimone 1. Records-Meadowdale 13-8 overall. Snohomish 19-2.