BELLEVUE — Zaveon Jones and the rest of the Mountlake Terrace Hawks scratched and clawed from tip to buzzer against the Eastside Catholic Crusaders on Saturday night. However, their gritty effort wasn’t quite enough to overcome the Crusaders’ 6-foot-10 star.
Jacob Cofie did it all for Eastside Catholic, and Mountlake Terrace came up a bucket short in a 54-52 loss in the Class 3A high school boys basketball state regionals at Bellevue College.
The Hawks had no one within seven inches of Cofie, who piled up 21 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots. But with the muscular Jones (19 points, six boards, four assists) diving all over the court to lead the way, Mountlake Terrace stood toe-to-toe with the champions of what’s considered the best basketball district in the state. The Hawks nearly overcame a 10-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter, and they had the ball at the end with a chance to tie or win.
“Overall that’s a heck of a high school basketball game against a good team, but I don’t think our guys are too bad either,” Mountlake Terrace coach Nalin Sood said. “We checked off a lot of things except getting a victory tonight.”
Kayden Greene nailed five 3-pointers and Ishe Kanhukamwe scored 12 for Eastside Catholic (19-8), the No. 3 seed, which earned a bye to Thursday’s quarterfinals at the Tacoma Dome.
Jaxon Dubiel added 16 points and three steals for sixth-seeded Mountlake Terrace (18-6), which faces North Thurston in the round of 12 at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Tacoma Dome.
“I think we actually played pretty good,” Jones said. “We came out on fire, we came out hot. I think what we could do better is play defense.
“I think coming into this game a lot of people underestimated us,” Jones added. “We played a Metro team that won their (district), but I think we played pretty hard.”
Eastside Catholic was a significant favorite, considering the Crusaders knifed through six straight state qualifiers coming into Saturday. But the Hawks exhibited no fear, and they surprised their taller opponents as the 6-foot-2 Jones and 6-foot-2 Dubiel found ways to finish at the rim despite the presence of a 6-foot-10 shot blocker.
Meanwhile, Hawks point guard Logan Tews did a good job breaking down the defense and setting up teammates for layups, while Jones and Svayjeet Singh banged down low the best they could. A Singh putback gave Mountlake Terrace a five-point lead late in the second quarter, though Kanhukamwe’s 3-pointer just before the buzzer cut the Hawks’ lead to 27-25 at halftime.
However, Cofie went to work in the second half. Eastside Catholic made a concerted effort to get him the ball on the low block. When Cofie could back his man down he scored over the top of helpless defenders. When he couldn’t, he kicked the ball to the corner where Green hit 3s. The combination proved difficult to stop, and when Kanhukamwe hit a 3 midway through the fourth to make it 54-44 it looked like the game was over.
But again Mountlake Terrace refused to quit. Jones set up Dubiel, scored himself in transition on a long pass from Tews, then set up Singh. Dubiel’s two free throws with 34.8 seconds remaining — which came on Cofie’s fifth foul — cut the deficit to two.
“I’ve been saying it for two years, I’m glad he’s on our side,” Sood said about Jones. “You know what you’re going to get every single day. … He’s just a great competitor and this is one of the greatest competitive environments. He’s just an unbelievable competitor.”
Mountlake Terrace got a stop and had the ball with 13.3 seconds remaining. However, Eastside Catholic’s swarming defense harried the Hawks all the way up the court and forced the Hawks to inbound multiple times. Eventually the Crusaders knocked the ball away as Mountlake Terrace wasn’t able to get a final shot off.
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