Prep boys basketball preview: Meadowdale ready to build on last year’s success

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2016-17 season: 6-6 in 2A/3A Wesco League, 8-15 overall

Head Coach: Roger O’Neill

Key losses: Xavier Meekins, Drew Tingstad, Zach Plummer

Key returners: Daniel Barhoum, Mustapha Sonko, Will Schafer, Justin Chambers

Last season, the Meadowdale Mavericks boys basketball team qualified for their first postseason games since the 2010-11 team made a four-game run in the District tournament. They will look to build on that success this year.

Coach Roger O’Neill discussed his key losses, and the players he envisions stepping into those roles this year. Gone are two of his top three scorers from a year ago, in Drew Tingstad and leading scorer Xavier Meekins. Tingstad is now at Humboldt State University in California playing football, while Meekins is at Edmonds Community College to play basketball.

“We had a good core of seniors last year. It’ll be tough to replace guys like Drew and X that played heavy minutes, but we’re returning a lot of guys that played big minutes and a lot of guys that other people might be surprised about, but we aren’t. They’re ready to step up into big-time roles.”

Added O’Neill: “We’ve got three returning starters in Dan (Barhoum), Taph (Mustapha Sonko) and Schaf (Will Schafer). And Justin (Chambers) played heavy minutes as well. He’ll be a huge part of what we do this year. We’ve got pretty good senior leadership and a lot of guys that can put the ball in the hoop. We’re excited.”

The off-season was a good one for the Mavericks, but they are focused on what’s ahead. “We had a good summer,” O’Neill said. “A lot of guys out, won a lot of games, but those don’t show up in the newspaper, so we’re looking forward to playing some real games here, starting next week.”

Senior forward Dan Barhoum talked about how he and his teammates are preparing for the upcoming season. “Losing two quick games in Districts last year, everyone worked out with a little chip on their shoulder,” he said. “We’d finally reached a goal of ours, but this season we have bigger and better goals. To get to Districts, make an impact in Districts, and hopefully bring home a title.”

Fellow senior Justin Chambers added, “I see a lot of team chemistry. You know, everybody is getting along, everybody is sharing the ball, which is good. And then, everybody is comfortable, nobody is scared to take a shot.”

Added senior Mustapha Sonko: “I think we can make it to the Dome. I believe in my guys. I believe we have chemistry, so I think that we are going to get buckets.”

The Mavericks will feature a more up-tempo offense utilizing their overall team size and speed. “You look at players like Dan, Taph  and Justin, and others, we’ve got some length and some athleticism. We want to go and push pace and go get some buckets at the rim,” O’Neill said.

“We’re pleased right now with our progress,” the coach continued. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re looking good and that’s not surprising, I don’t think, to any of us. We’re excited. We have another week of hard work to get better, but we’re excited to go play someone else. Last year we got there (to the District tournament) for the first time in a while, but we didn’t have any success, so that’s obviously the next step, but we’re not trying to take just one step.

“Hopefully this year, we want to get there, win games, and put ourselves in a position to play in a regional game. Once you get there, anything can happen. You’re just one step away from going to Tacoma (for the State tournament),” O’Neill said.

The Mavericks’ 2017-18 season gets underway Friday, Dec. 1, when they travel to Jackson High School in Mill Creek to take on the Timberwolves. The game starts at 7:15 p.m.

— Story and photos by Scott Williams

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