The Meadowdale boys basketball team has the perfect blueprint for success in the postseason.
Just play like it did in its 66-52 victory over Jackson Feb. 6 at Meadowdale High School.
Three players scored in double figures and the Mavericks had an equally strong effort on the defensive end of the floor in the Western Conference South Division contest.
What pleased Meadowdale coach Chad McGuire the most was his players’ intensity.
“Our intensity level is as good as it’s been in a while,” McGuire said. “That was good to see. We just came out with a lot of focus and a lot of energy. We played with energy for 32 minutes.”
Senior Roger O’Neill led the way with a team-high 20 points. Junior Connor Hamlett added 13 points and 12 rebounds and senior Khalid Surur had 11 points.
“It was a great team effort, one of the best team efforts where everyone is coming together,” O’Neill said. “Everyone is making the extra pass. … It was fun to watch.”
The defensive focus of the Mavericks was to contain junior guard Ryan Todd. Meadowdale didn’t really succeed as Todd scored 26 points.
“He’s the whole focus of our defense,” McGuire said. “We’re trying to stop him and he still gets 26. That goes to show you what kind of player he is. Overall, I thought we did a good job.”
Todd didn’t have much support as only one other player scored in double figures for Jackson.
“He’s a great player, one of the best in the league,” O’Neill said of Todd. “If we’re scoring more than them, it’s not that big of a deal. If it was a lower scoring game, we would have had to really step up and shut him down.”
Meadowdale jumped out to a 19-14 lead in the first quarter and extended its advantage to 36-27 at halftime. The Mavericks then boosted their lead to double digits.
A 3-pointer by senior center Kris Larson helped lead the Mavericks’ charge.
“It sparked us,” McGuire said. “It kind of gives you energy. We were able to get the ball inside in the second half a lot. So we were getting some great looks at the hoop and we were able to combine a couple of buckets with a couple of stops on the defensive end. We took a 9-point lead at halftime and got it up to 14 or 15 and that was big. We didn’t let them make a run at us.”
Jackson coach Steve Johnson lamented his team’s performance on the boards. The Wolfpack were outsized by the Mavericks but that still was no excuse, he said.
“We talked about defending the post and rebounding in a variety of ways,” Johnson said. “In some respects we didn’t really execute what we needed to do. We can’t make excuses that they are bigger and stronger.
“If we want to win playoff games we have to play better defense and we have to rebound better. It’s very simple. If we don’t do those things then I don’t think we’ll be successful.”
Both McGuire and O’Neill said that Friday night’s performance is exactly the way Meadowdale hopes to be playing in the playoffs.
“If we play like that we’re going to do some good things,” O’Neill said. “We can’t take anyone lightly. There’s some good teams up north that we’re going to have to take care of. We’d like to make it back to state obviously and make some noise this year.”
The Mavericks had a stellar effort on just about all facets of their game, McGuire said.
“We played good team defense and offensively we were very unselfish with the basketball,” he said. “We hit the open guy and made the extra pass and we executed really well. I’ll take that performance any day of the week. … If we bring that kind of energy and focus in the postseason we’ll play well.”
The key in the postseason is executing in the halfcourt game and Meadowdale was able to do that both on offense and defense, McGuire said.
Johnson expects Meadowdale to do well in the postseason with their size and solid guard play.
“They have one of the better players in the league in O’Neill and two really solid big guys and good role players,” Johnson said. “They’re a very good team, no doubt about it.”
O’NEILL BATTLES INFECTION: About a month ago, Meadowdale senior guard Roger O’Neill got a cut on the arm during a game against Mountlake Terrace. He was stitched up and everything appeared to be fine. On Feb. 6, the arm swelled up as a result of an apparent infection. O’Neill went to the training room and had the arm wrapped up. He then went out and scored 20 points in the Mavericks’ victory over Jackson.
“It was big but it didn’t restrict my movement,” O’Neill said of his arm wrappings.