With their respective backs against the wall, hoping to qualify for the District 1 3A basketball tournament, the Meadowdale Mavericks and the Lynnwood Royals faced off in a loser out, play-in game Thursday night at Meadowdale High School. Trailing by one at half time, the host Mavericks took a lead and managed to hang on and edge the feisty Royals, 59-53.
Both teams failed to finish in one of the top five positions in the league, which would have given them an automatic berth into the district tournament. So the sixth-place Mavericks and ninth-place Royals found themselves in a position of having to earn their district berth by way of an additional play-in game. The winner would advance to an opening round district game on Saturday, while the loser’s season would come to an end.
Having played once this season with the Mavericks recording a 14-point victory, the visiting Royals came out intent on a different outcome.
Tthe Royals created problems for the Mavs’ defense with quick guard play and a well-balanced scoring attack, with six players scoring four or more points working in a rarely used offense.
“They threw a wrinkle at us offensively that they haven’t really done much all year and ran it well,” Mavs coach Roger O’Neill said of Lynnwood opening the game running a Flex offense. “That’s a testament to their kids, their basketball IQ and willingness to commit.”
Neither team was able to separate themselves from the other, with no first half lead larger than five or six points. As time expired in the second quarter, Lynnwood enjoyed a one-point lead.
The third quarter saw a different Meadowdale team take the floor. The Mavs made adjustments to try to stop the Royals’ offense, using their team length and size to influence shots and get an edge rebounding. They took a five-point lead into the final quarter when forward Justin Chambers hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, ending the third quarter.
Then, with 6:53 in the fourth, Meadowdale guard Haben Tekle stroked a 3 from the right wing to give the Mavs their largest lead of the game, at 49-38 with 6:53 to play.
“When they hit that 3, I could see that panic come,” said Royals coach Bobby Hinnenkamp. “But I’m super proud that they fought back.”
Fight back they did. A minute and a half later, riding a quick 8-0 run, the Royals cut the lead to just three 49-46 with 4:06 remaining. Then, after exchanging scores, the lead was trimmed to two when guard Anthony Joo slashed to the hoop with a lay-in, making the score 53-51 with 2:11 to go in the game.
The Royals had a shot at a 3-pointer to tie the game at 56 with 27 seconds to play, but junior Jerry Boston’s baseline shot fell short of the rim.
From there, Meadowdale’s senior guard Will Schafer took over, attacking the rim and drawing fouls to earn multiple trips to the charity stripe down the stretch. He converted on five of eight free throws in the fourth quarter, to go along with two additional scores, to post 9 fourth-quarter points and seal the deal for the Mavericks.
“I knew we were going to get their best effort, and that’s exactly what we got tonight. “O’Neill said of Lynnwood. “I thought they were really prepared. Hats off the coach Hinnenkamp and his guys. They played a pretty complete basketball game. They played a terrific basketball game tonight and we had to give them everything we had, just to get a close win.”
Hinnenkamp said that while it would have been nice to win, he was pleased with his players’ effort and energy, “and I couldn’t be more proud of what they did. Meadowdale is a great team, great program and they played extremely well tonight. A lot of credit to them.”
For their victory, the Mavericks earn a first-round match-up with Marysville-Pilchuck in the District 1 3A tournament. The last time the two teams met Jan. 30, Pilchuck took home a 75-36 victory.
“We’re looking forward to getting a chance to prove ourselves against them again,” O’Neill said. “They’re a terrific basketball team. Super talented. We’re going to have to be right in everything we do, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and the kids are too.
“Doesn’t matter what seed you are. Once you’re in the tournament, anything can happen,” O’Neill added.
Boys Basketball: Lynnwood at Meadowdale, Feb. 8
Lynnwood 16 13 09 15 —53
Meadowdale 18 10 18 13 —59
Lynnwood scoring: Alex Macias 11, Anthony Joo 11, Jerry Boston 8, Jayden Acosta-Newsome 7, Gabe Newson 4, Josh Siscar 4, Timmy Tiang 3, Jordan Glover 3, Carson Speegle 2
Meadowdale scoring: Justin Chambers 14, Will Schafer 13, Okeoma Okoro 11, Colton Walsh 8, Haben Tekle 8, Daniel Barhoum 5
Records: Lynnwood 3-9 in 3A Wesco League, 6-14 overall; Meadowdale 6-6 in 3A Wesco League, 11-10 overall
Lynnwood’s next game: Eliminated from the post season. Season is over.
Meadowdale’s next game: versus Marysville-Pilchuck Tomahawks Saturday, Feb. 10, 7 p.m. at Marysville-Pilchuck High School
— Story and photos by Scott Williams