TACOMA — Balanced scoring and rock-solid defensive schemes have been the recipe for success all season long for the sixth-seeded Mountlake Terrace Hawks, and they kept it rolling on Day 1 of the Hardwood Classic.
Terrace slipped past No. 14 North Thurston 58-53 with both qualities on display, booking a Class 3A quarterfinal matchup against No. 5 O’Dea at 3:45 p.m. Thursday.
Senior guard Chris Meegan orchestrated things for the Hawks on the offensive end, coming up with 15 points and six assists while junior Jaxon Dubiel added 12 points, five boards, two steals and two blocks.
The Rams’ 6-foot-6 front-court duo of senior Thad TenKley (25 points, nine rebounds) and junior Ray Adams (seven points, 14 boards) held down the fort and gave Mountlake Terrace a sizable test on both ends.
“When you start following what they’ve done over the last 10 days, they’re not a 14 seed,” Mountlake Terrace coach Nalin Sood said. “There’s a body of work behind why they’re here and they have some really good players. You do your best to counter and hope you make plays at the end. I thought we did, it was just back and forth, back and forth.”
Sophomore Rayshaun Connor came off the Hawks bench and delivered a much needed 12 points (4-for-5 on 3-pointers), junior Zaveon Jones added seven points and eight rebounds, and senior Svayjeet Singh chipped in nine points.
“For the most part, I can’t single anyone out,” Sood said. “It was a good team effort and that’s what these guys have done all year. If you’re gonna do anything out here you gotta be more than just one or two guys, and that’s what we hope we are.”
The Terrace defense held North Thurston stagnant in the opening minutes, taking a 9-4 lead with 2 minutes, 15 seconds left in the first period. The Rams (19-9) got into rhythm as they headed into the second frame as TenKley beat the first-quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer.
At the half, the Hawks (19-6) led 29-25.
In the third, it remained a seesaw contest as neither team could extend a lead until late in the quarter. North Thurston got closer as Ahren Bee-Richards knocked down a 3 to pull the Rams within one at 31-30.
Jones responded for the Hawks, finishing through contact after garnering an offensive board, letting out a roar as he was fouled, triggering a Rams timeout. Jones came back and hit the free throw to put Terrace up 34-30 with 5:17 left in the third.
Connor kept Terrace afloat from the perimeter in the third, hitting a trey to put the Hawks ahead 40-36. Dubiel drew a charge on the defensive end, and Connor stepped into another 3, giving his team the largest lead of the game at 43-36 with 2:36 remaining in the frame.
The Rams constructed a mini 6-2 run and trailed 45-42 after three. Despite being right in the thick of things, North Thurston never took back the lead.
Adams flew in for a put-back layup as the Rams trailed 50-49 with 2:58 to go, once again cutting into Terrace’s slim cushion.
Meegan capitalized on two free throws, bringing the Hawks ahead 52-49 at the 2:50 mark in the fourth. Dubiel got a steal on the other end, and Jones found Singh under the basket for an easy two that gave them a 54-49 lead with 1:50 left.
Jones gave the Hawks one more blast as Terrace put enough points on the scoreboard to come away unscathed. Jones tracked down an offensive rebound and finished through traffic, putting his squad up 56-50 with 1:08 remaining.
Jackson Lusk hit a 3 for North Thurston, but a pair of game-sealing free throws from Dubiel down the stretch iced it over.
“We’re happy that we get a couple more days down here,” Sood said. “We’ve got O’Dea (Thursday and) maybe our guys know they can play with some good teams, but that’s only if we do the right things. They’ll have to prepare themselves for another hard-nosed game like today was.”
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