TACOMA – As far as bouncing back goes, this is as good as it gets.
One night after suffering a painful semifinal loss against Bethel, the Mountlake Terrace High boys basketball team regrouped magnificently. Using a 13-0 game-opening launching pad, the Hawks throttled the South Kitsap Wolves 64-43 Saturday afternoon in a Class 4A boys basketball state tournament third-place game at Tacoma Dome.
Seniors Adrian Blake (15 points), Christiaan Hammond (15 points) and Mike Boxley (13 points, seven rebounds) sparked Terrace, which finished with a 22-6 record and grabbed the second-best finish in school in history (Terrace won its only state championship in 1977 and was fifth in 1989).
The Hawks, who came in eyeing a second state title, showed absolutely no signs of a letdown against South Kitsap (26-3), which entered the tournament with just one loss and was ranked No. 1 (WashingtonPreps.com).
Terrace’s six seniors accounted for all but six of their team’s points. Hawks coach Nalin Sood gushed about his talented graduating class after the game.
“I’m a proud coach right now,” he said, smiling. “My chest is really far out there because these guys … bounced back. It just came down to having character – loving the game of basketball and loving your teammates, and not letting them down.”
Just like it did the night before against Bethel, which defeated the Hawks 47-44 on Friday, Terrace started extremely well. The Hawks staked a 13-0 lead and led 20-5 through one quarter. South Kitsap outscored Terrace 15-12 in the second quarter but the Hawks still led by 12 points (32-20) by halftime. Blake (nine points on 3-for-4 shooting) and Boxley (six points, five rebounds) paced Terrace’s first-half spurt.
Terrace extended its lead to 25 points with a dominant performance in the third quarter and South Kitsap never recovered. No one scored more than eight points for the Wolves.
In their third consecutive trip to the state tourney, Terrace’s seniors alleviated the pain of two straight two-and-outs with a 3-1 record and a trophy.
“We’ve been working toward a state title for three years,” Terrace senior Luke Hammond (five assists) said. ” (Friday night’s) loss was the hardest loss I’ve ever taken. It was hard for all of us. … But third place is good.”
“If you go out,” Hammond, who will play for Evergreen State in Olympia, said of his final high school game, “go out in style.”
“We knew we had a chance ahead of us that the other (eliminated) teams didn’t have,” Boxley added. “We had to take advantage of it. We had to.”
South Kitsap-Neloms 8, Gehring 5, Burk 3, Curry 3, Moore 4, Webb 6, Monagle 4, Sweet 8, McPherson 2. Mountlake Terrace-C. Hammond 15, Balch 4, L. Hammond 4, Blake 15, Boxley 13, Wiley 2, Swanson 7, Mundt 4. 3-point goals-Gehring 1, Curry 1, C. Hammond 3, Blake 1, Boxley 1. Records-South Kitsap 26-3 overall. Mountlake Terrace 22-6.