MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Muhammed Kinteh has spent most of the season coming off the bench.
But after 6-foot-6 post Jace Breakfield suffered an ankle injury last week, Kinteh moved into a starting role. And he’s sure made the most of the opportunity.
Kinteh exploded for 21 of his game-high 25 points in the second half as the Mountlake Terrace High School boys basketball team pulled away for a 75-55 win over visiting Shorecrest in a Wesco 3A/2A clash Wednesday night.
“It’s just (being) ready when your opportunity comes,” Hawks coach Nalin Sood said. “Your opportunity is going to come, and you’ve gotta try to seize it if you can. And that’s what Muhammed’s done.”
After scoring 24 points combined in Mountlake Terrace’s first nine games, Kinteh has netted 12, 16 and 25 points in the past three contests as a starter.
The 6-foot-1 junior forward helped the Hawks turn a two-point halftime lead over Shorecrest into a runaway 20-point victory, scoring 12 points in the third quarter and nine more in the fourth during his massive second-half display.
“It was really my teammates,” Kinteh said. “They were finding me open a lot, so I got a lot of good points off them dishing me the ball.”
Robbie Baringer added 13 points for Mountlake Terrace (10-2, 5-1 Wesco 3A/2A), which had eight different scorers in the first half before Kinteh took over in the second half with his breakout performance.
Kinteh was the fifth different leading scorer this season for the well-balanced Hawks, who have four players averaging double digits in scoring.
“I think we have some guys that could go score a fair amount of points if they were the only show in town,” Sood said, “but they’ve got teammates around that they have confidence in.
“And when you have an off night (as) more teams are going to try to take away your go-to guy, you better have other guys able to do it. And that’s what’s worked out for us a lot of nights this year.”
The game took on a seesaw feel in the first half, with both teams trading big scoring runs.
Shorecrest (7-3, 3-3) rattled off 10 straight points midway through the first quarter, but Mountlake Terrace closed the period with seven consecutive points to take a 14-12 lead.
The Scots quickly reclaimed the momentum in the second quarter, storming back in front with 11 straight points to build a 23-14 advantage.
But just as the Hawks were on the verge of falling into a double-digit hole, they came storming back to end the half with a 16-5 run. Jai Nath’s putback in the final minute gave Mountlake Terrace a 30-28 halftime edge.
“I don’t know if the final score indicated how tough a game that was,” Sood said.
Kinteh led the Hawks’ third-quarter charge, scoring his team’s first eight points of the period as they opened with a 10-2 run. He began his eight-point spurt by fighting through contact for a tough finish and closed the stretch by banking in a contested turnaround jumper.
Shorecrest responded yet again, scoring seven straight points to trim Mountlake Terrace’s lead to 40-37. But the Hawks answered right back, reeling off 10 consecutive points to push the margin to 50-37. During that run, Kinteh converted a nice Euro-step transition layup and Vitaly Mkrtychyan added a tough basket through contact while falling to the ground.
Baringer capped the third quarter by swishing a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, extending Mountlake Terrace’s lead to 53-41. The Hawks led by double digits the rest of the way.
Mountlake Terrace outscored Shorecrest 45-27 in the second half and held the Scots to their second-lowest point total of the season.
“I thought we were the aggressors a little bit offensively,” Sood said of his team’s second-half performance. “And then we hope to be tough on defense and not allow teams to do what they want to do. … Fortunately it went our way tonight.”
Elijah Johnson led Shorecrest with 16 points. Dante Recabarren added 13 points and Jack Sims scored 12 for the Scots.
“We just forced a lot of shots,” Shorecrest coach Eddie George said. “Terrace is always tough. They play hard-nosed defense, and you’ve gotta move the ball side to side. If you don’t, … then they’ll clamp down on you. That was the difference.
“We forced a lot of shots,” he added, “and that’s just not who we are.”