MARYSVILLE — It wasn’t the prettiest of games.
But the Marysville Pilchuck boys basketball team was more than happy to pick up the win and keep its season alive.
The youth-laden Tomahawks grinded through a foul-filled affair and pulled away in the second half to advance to the Class 3A District 1 tournament with a 65-54 win over visiting Lynnwood in a district play-in game Friday night.
“It’s huge,” said Pilchuck freshman guard Luke Dobler of the victory, after battling through illness to hit a pair of third-quarter 3-pointers and finish with a game-high 18 points. “As the super young team that we are, I feel like people are counting us out already. I feel like we can make a run at this.”
Pilchuck (11-10) will open the eight-team, double-elimination district tournament on the road against top-seeded Stanwood at 7 p.m. Saturday. The top four district finishers will advance to the state regionals.
Lynnwood (6-15), playing in its first postseason game since 2010, was eliminated with the loss.
“Credit to these kids, to these seniors,” Lynnwood coach Bobby Hinnenkamp said. “We have seven seniors and they’ve been through a lot. … We were hoping to keep going and they battled hard for it, but unfortunately the ball didn’t go our way.”
In a game that lacked flow due to the multitude of fouls, Pilchuck came through at the line by sinking 27 of 35 free throws (77.1 percent). Lynnwood struggled mightily from the stripe, hitting just 11 of 26 attempts (42.3 percent).
“Crucial,” Pilchuck coach Bary Gould said of his team’s ability to knock down free throws. “We don’t win that game if we don’t make our free throws down the stretch. And Lynnwood stays a lot closer if they do make their free throws. So that was the difference.”
Pilchuck star sophomore RaeQuan Battle scored 15 points and junior Josiah Gould — like Dobler — fought through sickness to chip in 13 points.
“I think it speaks to their toughness,” Bary Gould said. “Not only were they battling Lynnwood, but they were battling through their own (stuff).”
Lynnwood junior Alex Macias scored 15 of his team-high 17 points in the second half, while senior Eli Edwards added 15 points for the Royals.
The teams were tied 12-12 after the first quarter and 27-27 at halftime, but Pilchuck gained an edge with six straight points to open the second half. Then after Lynnwood chipped the deficit to 36-35 later in the third quarter, Pilchuck junior Isaiah Williams and Dobler responded with a 3-pointer apiece as the Tomahawks closed the period on an 8-2 run to build a 44-37 lead.
Lynnwood cut the margin to four points early in the fourth quarter, but that was as close as the Royals would come. Pilchuck salted away the game from the free-throw line, where the Tomahawks scored 19 of their 21 fourth-quarter points.
Pilchuck now turns its attention to Wesco 3A champion Stanwood (19-1).
“We’re freshman-laden, they’re senior-laden,” Bary Gould said. “Our mentality is really we have nothing to lose, so we’re going to go play our hearts out and give them everything that we have. We know for sure that they have the capacity to meet that challenge, but that’s why we play the games.”