Playing from behind for almost the entire first three quarters, the Mountlake Terrace Hawks girls basketball team discovered the easiest place to score points against the physical play of the Meadowdale Mavericks was from the foul line. Terrace scored 13 of their 21 fourth-quarter points from the charity stripe and rode those free throws to a 51-41 victory Saturday night in a District 1 3A Girls Basketball Tournament semi-final at Lynnwood High School.
With the win, Terrace steps up to the district championship game on Saturday, Feb. 22 and will take on the Glacier Peak Grizzlies, the team they shared the Wesco 3A South Conference regular season title with. The Hawks are also guaranteed a spot in regional competition the following weekend. The Mavericks drop to the losers’ bracket of district play and will face Marysville-Pilchuck in a loser-out game on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at Meadowdale High School; tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.
Terrace converted 22 of 32 free throw attempts in their game with Meadowdale, while the Mavericks made only one of three attempts from the line. “The difference in that game was free throws,” said Meadowdale Coach Marcus Merrifield. “They scored 22 from the line; that’s hard to overcome.”
The Mavericks committed 27 fouls in the game to only 15 for Terrace; Meadowdale’s leading scorer, senior post Nday Sonko, fouled out just past the midway point of the final quarter, leaving little chance for the Mavericks to mount any final challenge to the Hawks.
Sanko led the early charge of the Mavericks as the team jumped out to a 9-0 lead before Terrace scored their first points with 2:07 to go in the first quarter. The Meadowdale senior, who finished the game with 15 points, scored six in the first quarter and controlled the lane, grabbing rebounds and intimidating Hawk shooters. Terrace was just 1-8 shooting and committed seven turnovers in the first quarter.
“We weren’t attacking the basket,” said Hawk Coach Zach Wilde. “We just settled for the easy stuff,” he added, referring to long-range jumpers that weren’t falling for the Hawks early on. The team fell behind 19-7 before being able to climb back to within six points at the half 22-16. Terrace didn’t take the lead until Riley Zucker scored her only two points of the game 13 seconds into the fourth quarter, giving the Hawks a 32-31 lead that they would never relinquish.
Nikkie Froehlich led Terrace in scoring with 17 points, all but four of those in the second half. “We’ve just kind of been talking to her about, ‘hey, you’re a senior. You’ve been with the team all this time. You need to go take Sam (teammate Samantha Romanowski) with you; take her with you,’” said Wilde, referring to not letting Romanowski carry the scoring burden for the team.
“It’s something we’ve been talking about – confidence, playing within yourself, being Nikkie,” he added.
Romanowski was able to add 12 points to the Terrace total. Kristjanson scored 13 points for the Hawks.
Merrifield, though disappointed with the loss, still thinks his Mavericks have some fight left in them this postseason. If the team can come out victorious Wednesday, they will play in a winner to Regionals – loser out game on Feb. 22.
“I told the girls that we should be playing our best basketball in February, and I think we are,” he said.
In other District 1 action Saturday, Glacier Peak earned their berth in the district championship game with a 55-43 victory over Ferndale; Marysville-Pilchuck defeated Shorecrest 51-49 and Stanwood knocked out No. 1 North seed Everett 60-51. To view the complete District 1 3A Girls Basketball Tournament bracket, click here.
MTHS versus Meadowdale, Girls Basketball, Feb. 15
Meadowdale 9 13 9 10 — 41
Mountlake Terrace 2 14 14 21 — 51
Meadowdale individual scoring: Ndey Sonko 15; Jaclyn Barhoum 11; Mackenzie Bretz 5; Alexandria Steen 4; Kearstin Franco 3; Hailey Costello 3; Angela Birchman; Kassi Dotter; Ciarra Hart
MTHS individual scoring: Nikkie Froehlich 17; Maddy Kristjanson 13; Samantha Romanowski 12; Shaian Pagaling 3; Claire Zucker 3; Riley Zucker 2; Kirsty Dale; Yesenia Pena; Amanda Tompkins
Records: Meadowdale 8-14; Mountlake Terrace 18-4
Meadowdale next game: versus Marysville-Pilchuck, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 7 p.m. at Meadowdale High School (loser-out game)
MTHS next game: versus Glacier Peak, Saturday, Feb. 22, 8 p.m. at Lynnwood High School for District 1 Championship
– By Doug Petrowski