Wanting nothing less than to play in the Tacoma Dome, tears flowed and hearts broke on Saturday as the Meadowdale Lady Mavericks fell short in their bid to win their way into the 2020 3A Hardwood Classic.
With a trip to Tacoma on the line, the Mavericks were downed by the Hudson’s Bay Eagles 55-49 in a WIAA 3A Girls Basketball Regional Playoff loser-out game at Issaquah High School.
With the season-ending loss, the Mavericks were denied the chance to play in state tournament games in the Tacoma Dome for the second straight year.
“I know how deeply they wanted to go to the Dome,” said Meadowdale Coach Arie Mahler after the loss. “That’s been the talk; that’s been the talk all season.”
“It’s hard, it’s hard; I get it,” Mahler continued. “I’ve been in enough locker rooms where teams didn’t quite achieve their goals and you look your seniors in the eyes and the finality for them (is) that’s it. Everybody else gets to go on, potentially, but they’re done. It’s the last time they wear that uniform.”
The emotional loss came one year after the Mavericks fell one-point short in a winner-to-the-Dome, loser-out regional game that ended their 2018-2019 season. While last year’s loss was tough, Mahler admitted that this year’s defeat hit him and his squad even harder.
“We achieved a lot of milestones this year, but this was the big one that they can’t check off that box.”
The loss to Hudson’s Bay came after the Mavericks led for nearly all of the first half and third quarter; but the Eagles were able to turn the tables in the final eight minutes, outscoring Meadowdale 20-10 in the fourth quarter to grab the victory.
“I think we were a little tight,” Mahler said. “We didn’t play as loose as I would have hoped.”
The two teams were tied on the scoreboard five times in the fourth quarter, the last time at 49-49 with less than two minutes to play. Then Eagles’ senior Ashley Rodriguez sunk a three-pointer, followed 49 seconds later by a long two. Meanwhile, the Mavs missed three 3-point attempts, failed to convert two foul shots and committed a turnover to close out the game, giving Hudson’s Bay the win.
“The outside shots, I think our girls got tired,” Mahler said of the contest’s last two minutes. “The shots were just short. Lilly’s (Williams) last 3(-pointer) she took was in and then popped right out. I think a lot of that was indicative of fatigue.”
The Mavericks did convert on six shots from outside the 3-point arc earlier in the game. That included four in a second quarter that included a 16-2 Meadowdale run — a run that included points scored from inside the lane too. But as a pair of Hudson’s Bay juniors, Jaydia Martin and Kamelai Powell, began to shut down the Mavs’ inside attack with blocked shots and an intimidating presence, Meadowdale started to rely more and more on an outside shooting game that failed to keep up with the Eagles.
Martin led all scorers in the game with 22 points, 14 in the second half; Powell and Rodriquez added 14 points each for the Eagles.
Williams paced the Mavs with 15 points, all on successful 3-point attempts. Fatoumata Jaiteh scored 10 points for Meadowdale, but none in the fateful fourth quarter.
With the loss, the game marked the final time on the court for four Mavs’ seniors: Williams, Soriah Swinton, Alicia Morrison and Maia Austvold.
Mahler was reflective and hopeful for his squad after the contest. “My hope is that they, once they get over the sting, that they will look back hopefully fondly — I think they will — and recognize what they achieved.”
Meadowdale finished the 2019-2020 season with an overall record of 17-8, the best for a Lady Mavs team since 2008-2009.
You can view the entire WIAA 3A Girls Basketball Regional Playoff and State Championship (Hardwood Classic) brackets here.
Prep Girls Basketball: Hudson’s Bay vs. Meadowdale, Feb. 29 (WIAA 3A Girls Basketball Regional Playoff loser-out game)
Hudson’s Bay 10 11 14 20 — 55
Meadowdale 11 17 11 10 — 49
Meadowdale individual scoring: Lilly Williams 15, Fatoumata Jaiteh 10, Soriah Swinton 7, Kaisha Stark 7, Ava Powell 4, Jenaly Gabriel 2, Alicia Morrison, McKenna Kuecker
Hudson’s Bay individual scoring: Jaydia Martin 22, Ashley Rodriquez 12, Kamelai Powell 12, Paytin Ballard 5,Mahaila Harrison 4, Mae Carse, Stacia Mikaele
Records: Meadowdale 17-8 overall; Hudson’s Bay 20-6 overall
Meadowdale next game: 2019-2020 season completed
— By Doug Petrowski