With their respective backs against the wall hoping to qualify for the District 1 3A basketball tournament, the Meadowdale Mavericks played host to the Royals from Lynnwood in a loser out, play-in game Thursday night. Trailing by one at half time, the Mavericks took a lead and managed to hang on and edge the feisty Royals with a final score of 59-53.
Failing to finish in one of the top five positions in the league, which would have earned them an automatic berth into the District tournament, both the sixth-place Mavericks and ninth-place Royals were in a position of having to earn their district berth by winning an additional play-in round game. The winner advances to an opening round district game on Saturday, while the loser’s season comes to an end.
Having played once this season with the Mavericks recording a 14-point victory, the visiting Royals were intent on a different outcome.
Quick guard play, and a well-balanced scoring attack, with six players scoring four or more points working in a rarely used offense, the Royals created problems for the Mavs defense.
Mavs coach Roger O’Neill commented on Lynnwood opening the game running that flex offense. “They threw a wrinkle at us offensively that they haven’t really done much all year and ran it well. That’s a testament to their kids, their basketball IQ and willingness to commit,” he said.
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. They made adjustments to try and stop the Royals offense, using their team length and size to influence shots and get an edge rebounding. They would take a five-point lead into the final quarter when forward Justin Chambers hit a three pointer at the buzzer, ending the third quarter.
Then, with 6:53 in the fourth, Meadowdale guard Haben Tekle stroked a three 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 three, I could see that panic come. You know, we’ve got some younger kids out there, and I saw that panic come, but I’m super proud that they fought back,” said Royals head coach Bobby Hinnenkamp on his team falling behind.
Fight back they did. A minute and a half later, riding a quick 8-0 run, they 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 baskets to post nine 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 added some final thoughts: “I’m proud of the kids. Obviously, it would have been nice to come out on the right side of the score board today, but, as I tell them all the time, their effort and energy was there, 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,” he said.
For their victory, the Mavericks earn themselves a first-round match-up with Marysville-Pilchuck in the District 1 3A tournament. A re-match of a game played on Jan. 30, where Pilchuck took home a 75-36 victory.
Coach O’Neill talked about his team’s task at hand.
“We were up there about two weeks ago,” he said. “It did not go so well for us, so we’re looking forward to getting a chance to prove ourselves against them again. 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.”
Boys Basketball: Lynnwood at Meadowdale, Feb. 8
Lynnwood 16 13 9 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