TACOMA — Everyone on the Meadowdale boys basketball team knows Chris Rohrbach has a sweet 3-point shot.
They just wish he’d try one in a game once in a while.
After making three in second quarter of Wednesday’s 64-48 victory over Yelm in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs, he just might chuck a little more often this week. Leading his team to the first boys basketball state playoff victory in school history can give a guy a little extra swagger.
“I make ‘em all the time in practice,” said Rohrbach, who scored a career-high 18 points in the Tacoma Dome. “I know I’ve got a good shot, but I usually let the other guys take that role.”
Rohrbach, who averaged 6.4 points per game heading into the tournament, is usually content to let his teammates handle the scoring while unleashing his nasty defense on opponents.
Against Yelm, he was too open to resist.
“I just knew someone was going to have to step up and hit the shots, because they were giving them to us,” said Rohrbach, a standout wide receiver and defensive back on the Meadowdale football team. “I stepped up with confidence and shot the ball all right.”
With Rohrbach causing an atypical type of damage, the Tornados never really had much of a chance. In the first quarter, he went to his bread-and-butter offensive play — the steal, sprint and layup — during Meadowdale’s 17-5 first quarter.
After that, the senior added his 3-point shot to Meadowdale’s already strong offense. He hit all three of his attempts from behind the arc during the first four minutes of the quarter to give the Mavs a 33-15 lead. In the final period, shortly after Yelm’s last gasp cut Meadowdale’s lead to seven points, Rohrbach played a more familiar role.
Twice in a span of 30 seconds, he stole the ball away and finished with layups on the other end to give Meadowdale a 50-37 advantage with 4:35 remaining.
“To win in the state tournament, you’re going to have to have guys step up and make shots,” said first-year Meadowdale coach Chad McGuire. “Chris did that for us.”
Aside from some misadventures at the free throw line, where Meadowdale made only 16 of 29 shots despite 8-of-10 shooting from Larod Lover, the Mavs did just about everything they hoped against Yelm. They committed only five turnovers while forcing the Tornados into 12. They won the rebounding war 31-28 despite a slight size disadvantage. Lover jump-started the Mavericks with three first-quarter assists and finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Like Yelm, Renton made it to the tournament for the first time since 1974. The Indians hadn’t won a state playoff game since winning consecutive state titles in 1966 and 1967. Meadowdale lost its only state playoff game to Federal Way in 1978 after going 1-1 in the regional tournament that year.
Aaron Coe is a writer for The Herald in Everett.