TACOMA — For two quarters, the Meadowdale Mavericks hung with the nation’s 14th-ranked team.
Then, as they have done so many times this year, the Franklin Quakers swiftly dropped the hammer.
Ranked No. 14 in the latest USA Today Super 25 poll, tournament favorite Franklin bounced back from a shaky first half and throttled Meadowdale High School Friday during the Class 3A state basketball championships. Franklin began the third quarter with a 20-4 scoring run and won the semifinal clash 58-37 at the Tacoma Dome.
Franklin (27-1) forced 22 turnovers that directly led to 31 points, zooming to its 14th consecutive victory. Senior wing Chris Holmes (14 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the field) headlined a balanced effort for Franklin, which plays Columbia River at 9 p.m. in the championship.
“They do a great job of creating turnovers and then they do an even better job of converting them on the other end,” Meadowdale coach Chad McGuire said. After beating North Kitsap 70-64 in the opening round and holding off Enumclaw 47-41 in the quarterfinals, Meadowdale (22-5) ran into a team it couldn’t keep up with.
In the first half, Meadowdale hung in against Franklin’s pressure and got within two points (20-18) late in the second quarter, following two free throws by post Connor Hamlett. But Franklin scored the final two baskets of the half and took a 24-18 lead to the break.
“That’s kind of what we wanted to do — low-scoring game — and we got the ball inside to Hamlett a little bit,” said McGuire, whose team led 10-5 in the first quarter.
The deficit for Meadowdale quickly ballooned to 10 points in the third quarter when University of Louisville recruit Peyton Siva made two foul shots and guard Vonchae Richardson swished a 3-pointer from the right corner. Siva, who averages about 19 points per game, scored just seven against Meadowdale. But his all-around contributions (five assists, three steals, two blocks) hurt Meadowdale, which had won 11 in a row.
“It was pretty tough,” said Hamlett, who led the Mavericks with 14 points and eight rebounds, “because they just started running on us. Obviously they’re a way quicker team than us.”
Through two quarters, Hamlett’s 10 points and six rebounds led everyone. He made three field goals and four free throws. The Mavericks out-rebounded Franklin 17-10.
“We hung with a nationally ranked team in the first half,” Hamlett said proudly. “We did good.”
What’s next for Meadowdale? The Mavs play Bellevue at 3:30 p.m. today in the third/sixth-place game. It’s a special opportunity for Meadowdale, which has never placed higher than sixth.
“We’re already thinking about it. Getting third in the state, that’s something big that our school’s never done,” Hamlett said.
But will Meadowdale — which got 11 points, four rebounds and two steals from guard Roger O’Neill — have gas in its tank? It will be the Mavericks’ fourth game in four days. They spent lots of energy trying to keep up with Franklin.
“We’ve got something left,” Hamlett said. “We’ll bring it (Saturday), definitely.”
In the fourth quarter, Meadowdale cut it to 48-32 on back-to-back baskets by Hamlett and O’Neill, but Franklin didn’t let up. The Quakers responded with a 6-0 spurt and kept attacking with defense and transition plays.
Ultra-deep Franklin got 33 points from its substitutes, compared to six for Meadowdale. The Quakers beat Shadle Park 67-42 in the first round and topped Seattle Prep 68-47 in the quarterfinals.
Franklin’s only loss this season was against Bainbridge (62-60 on Jan. 27).
At the Tacoma Dome
Franklin—Siva 7, Reid, Hopson, Richardson 10, Freddie Wilson 8, Adams 9, Orcejola 2, Holmes 14, Nelson, Dominique Wilson 8, Buchannan, Garrett. Meadowdale—O’Neill 11, Surur, Kyobe 3, Carroll 4, Hamlett 14, Larson 3, Neff-Warner, Johnson, Beucherie 2, Shiferaw, Coleman, Sand. 3-point goals—Adams 1, Richardson 2. Records—Franklin 27-1 overall. Meadowdale 22-5.
Mike Cane: email@example.com. Check out the prep sports blog Double Team at www.heraldnet.com/doubleteam.
Pre-game interview with Meadowdale boys basketball coach Chad McGuire