MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Death, taxes and the Mountlake Terrace defense.
Year in and year out, the Hawks’ boys basketball team produces one of Wesco 3A/2A’s most formidable defensive units.
On Tuesday night against Everett, Terrace’s relentless pressure was yet again on full display.
The Hawks stifled the Seagulls’ high-scoring offense, surrendering just 15 points in the first half, and Jaxon Dubiel netted a game-high 23 points to lead Terrace to a 67-50 victory in a matchup of league contenders at Mountlake Terrace High School.
It was the sixth time the Hawks (10-4, 8-1 Wesco 3A/2A) have held their opponents to 50 points or less in nine league games this season. And it came against an Everett squad that entered the contest second in conference play in scoring at 68.2 points per game.
“It’s a credit to these kids,” Terrace coach Nalin Sood of his team’s continued defensive prowess. “It’s not something every year you can just count on. It’s a new group of guys working hard every day and believing that they can go play defense.”
The Hawks imposed their will from the opening whistle with a smothering effort. Terrace got off to a slow start offensively and didn’t hit its first field goal until the 3:38 mark of the first quarter, but Everett (9-6, 7-3) wasn’t able to capitalize while also struggling to score. Zaveon Jones came off the bench, quickly broke the field-goal drought for the Hawks to spark an 8-0 run and Terrace grabbed a 9-5 lead and never looked back.
After holding Everett to just nine points in the first, Terrace followed with an even stingier second. The Hawks continued their lockdown defensive effort, allowed the Seagulls few good looks at the hoop and created fast-break buckets by forcing turnovers. Terrace also won the battle on the boards and took advantage of second-chance opportunities.
The Hawks used a 12-2 run to pull away and Dubiel’s 3-point play pushed its lead to 28-15 at the break.
Terrace opened the third with a 13-4 run and grabbed its biggest lead of the night 52-29 late in the period. Junior guard Dubiel scored 10 of his 23 points in quarter and sophomore forward Svayjeet Singh added eight.
The Seagulls went on a 13-6 run and narrowed their deficit to 62-49 midway through the fourth, but that’s as close as they would get.
Jones had 13 points, Singh chipped in 11 and the Hawks had key defensive contributions across the board on the way to the win.
“It was going to be really important tonight that we had a good team effort to go be successful against a team like Everett,” Sood said. “That can be rebounding, that can be defense, that can be taking care of the basketball. There’s so many different ways guys can contribute for us to be the better team.”
Danny Savovic scored 21 points, Ty Bloomfield netted 13, all in the second half, and Hayden Conaxis added eight for Everett, which was held to its lowest scoring output since early December.
“They’re completely sold out,” Everett coach Bobby Thompson said of Terrace’s lockdown defense. “… Nalin does a tremendous job instilling that in his guys and you can tell how dialed they are on that. They take a great deal of pride in it, and when you have a collective that does that, that’s the result you get. … We wish we would have responded better to that and we wish we would have played a better game, but hopefully we can see them again and learn from it.”
With the victory and Monroe’s loss to Shorecrest on Tuesday, Terrace is one of just two Wesco 3A/2A squads remaining with only one loss in league play alongside Arlington (9-1). And the Hawks, who handed Monroe its first loss of the season last Friday and hold a win over Arlington, have secured the tiebreaker over four the conference’s five other teams with three losses or less.
Terrace has the inside track on the league title with less than three weeks left in the regular season, but Sood and his team know they still have plenty of battles remaining to get there.
“We had success tonight,” Sood said. “Everybody feels a little bit better when you have a few more points on the scoreboard, but it’s still a process of getting better and better. But before we do that, the kids can enjoy being successful and beating a good team.”