UPDATED MOUNT VERNON — The Meadowdale girls basketball team has overcome some significant hurdles this season.
This week’s Northwest District 3A championship game was no exception.
The Mavericks let their 15-point second-quarter lead dissolve into a one-point deficit early in the third quarter before they regrouped to beat a pesky Sehome team 54-48 Feb. 27 at Mount Vernon High School.
Junior guard Anne Martin hit a pair of 3-pointers during a 12-2 run in the third quarter that saw Meadowdale retake a 43-34 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Mariners battled back in the fourth quarter and cut the lead to three points with 49.8 seconds left in the game. But senior forward Tara Jacob’s determined inside play resulted in a basket that extended the Mavericks’ advantage to 52-47 with 20 seconds remaining.
Jacob missed a shot, grabbed the rebound, missed another shot, grabbed another rebound and then converted the putback.
“That’s what she’s been about her four years at Meadowdale,” said Mavericks coach Karen Blair. “It’s been about rebounding, especially offensive rebounding. She’s tall, wiry and really tough to block out. She’s got a nose for the basketball.”
The loss of Jacob for a significant portion of the regular was one of the challenges Meadowdale (23-0 overall) has encountered this season. Jacob tore her anterior cruciate ligament during a summer tournament game and was not able to play until mid-January.
At the same time Jacob became active, the Mavericks lost leading scorer Quinn Brewe for five weeks due to a sprained medial collateral ligament. More recently, Martin was dealing with the effects of a sprained ankle.
The play of the bench has been instrumental in Meadowdale’s perfect run to state.
“Someone will get hurt and be out and any given person can step up and take their spot,” Martin said. “I just think our team does a really good job of stepping up and every person takes the lead and shows leadership out there.”
Martin scored a team-high 15 points, including three 3-point goals. The four days of rest between the semifinals and finals enabled Martin to reduce the swelling in her ankle.
“She’s a gamer,” Blair said of Martin. “She’s came out and hit some big threes for us and had some great drives … with a 6-2 girl coming in her face. So she was a big offensive threat for us.”
Brewe has since returned to the lineup but her playing time in the championship game was somewhat limited due to foul problems.
Brewe’s younger sister Maggie, a freshman, came in and gave Meadowdale some quality minutes and freshman Caitlyn Rohrbach hit a pair of 3-pointers.
“We’ve had to have different people step up at different times to try and get things done for us,” Blair said. “For the freshmen to make a huge impact for us is a good thing.”
The Mavericks expected a tough game from Sehome (14-9 overall), which came into the tournament on a roll.
Trailing 28-13 midway through the second quarter, the Mariners went on 14-1 run to close the quarter and cut their deficit to 29-26 at halftime.
“We weren’t being patient on offense,” Blair said. “They were doing a great job on the boards. We were getting one shot and that was it. They did a good job of handling our pressure and trying to set up their offense.”
Sehome kept the rally going in the third quarter, scoring the first two baskets to take a fleeting 30-29 lead at the 5:06 mark.
Martin then responded with her second 3-pointer of the night as Meadowdale retook the advantage for good.
“I just knew that we had to have a huge momentum change,” Martin said. “We needed to get the momentum back in our hands and just control the game like we had in the first (half).”
The Mavericks played a little smarter in the second half but still picked up some fouls that Blair would have rather avoided.
“For the most part we took care of the ball and looked to get it done,” Blair said.
Meadowdale entered this week’s Class 3A state tournament undefeated and with a No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press poll.
But none of the hoopla seems to have distracted the Mavericks from their primary goals.
“We don’t think about it that much,” Martin said. “It’s just numbers. We just try and go out there and play as hard as we can. This is one of our huge goals that we made … to go to state and win districts.”