The Meadowdale Mavericks were faced with a big challenge on Friday: take on the District 1 3A Boys Basketball Tournament No. 2 seed Stanwood Spartans in a tourney loser-out game, and do it with the team’s leading scorer Colton Walsh still sidelined with a knee injury.
For the Mavs, the challenge and their response to it will be remembered for some time.
After a first half that saw 12 lead changes and two ties, Meadowdale was able to rise up, break away late in the second quarter and ride that momentum to a 70-62 victory over the Spartans in the district tourney game played at Jackson High School.
With the win, the No. 5-seeded Mavs will clash with the No. 6 seed Marysville-Getchell Chargers in the district tournament’s 3rd/4th place game Saturday, Feb. 22, with the winner earning a berth in the regional round of the 3A state playoffs. Saturday’s contest will tipoff at 4:15 p.m. at Everett Community College.
Friday’s victory over Stanwood brought smiles to Meadowdale players, fans and especially Mavs’ Coach Roger O’Neill.
“We had guys in the right spots and they made a lot of good plays tonight,” O’Neill said.
“Stanwood’s a great team — I think they rattled off 15 wins in a row at some point this season –and they’re very well coached and they have two of the best shooters in the league on their team in my opinion,” O’Neill continued. “So I’m just really proud of our guys tonight; they played their hearts out and made enough shots and got enough stops to get it done.”
Making many of those Meadowdale shots was senior Hunter Moen, who led the team with 25 points, including 15 in a first-half effort that saw four long-range bombs from beyond the 3-point arc. Moen said after the game that he has no hesitation in taking shots from deep outside.
“Personally, I believe I have the green light,” he said. “When I feel comfortable, I’ll shoot the ball.”
O’Neill admitted that some of Moen’s shot selections in the first half brought a bit of anxiety, but that was quickly relieved when those shots found their mark.
“We still like to take the right shot, but when you got a guy playing at a high level like he is, we trust him to make the right decision,” O’Neill said. “There’s a couple times he’ll shoot one that my gut tells me, ‘ahhh,’ but then he just makes them.”
Meadowdale’s Leonardo Baquian also saw many of his shots falling on Friday; the junior scored 18 points, including a pair of key 3-pointers in the second half.
The Mavs built up their second-half lead to as many as 16 points (50-34 at the midpoint of the third quarter) before Stanwood sophomore Kaeden McGlothin got hot himself. McGlothin scored 24 points in the game, 22 in the second half, but it wouldn’t be enough for the Spartans.
Cort Roberson had 17 points for the Spartans in the loss.
The contest marked the second straight for the Mavericks without Walsh, who suffered a right knee injury on Feb. 15. But both games have resulted in Meadowdale victories in district tournament loser-out games.
“I’m not saying we’re better without Colton but certainly the guys have rallied and everyone has stepped up and filled in in a big way,” O’Neill said. “So this is a lot of fun tonight to go get a huge win against a great team.”
You can view the entire District 1 3A Boys Basketball Tournament bracket here.
Prep Boys Basketball: Meadowdale vs. Stanwood, Feb. 21 (District 1 3A Boys Basketball Tournament loser-out game)
Meadowdale 16 16 23 15 — 70
Stanwood 13 13 18 18 — 62
Meadowdale individual scoring: Hunter Moen 25, Leonardo Baquian 18, Mason Vaughn 11, Cole Nelson 8, Will McKinley 5, Justin Jackson 3, Beau Hopkins, Aaron Shrestha, Zach White, Deklund DeBell
Stanwood individual scoring: Kaeden McGlothin 24, Cort Roberson 17, Jake Cleary 10, Cam Everett 5, Darren Smith 4, Connor Schlepp 2, Jack Oldow, Dom Angelshaug, Brandt Gilbertson, Mack Hepper, Zane Strieby, Owen Thayer
Records: Meadowdale 13-10 overall; Stanwood 16-7 overall
Meadowdale next game: versus Marysville-Getchell; Saturday, Feb. 22; 4:15 p.m. at Everett Community College (District 1 3A Boys Basketball Tournament 3rd/4th place game – winner to regionals, loser-out)
— By Doug Petrowski