Defensive pressure and clutch free throw conversion at the end of the game helped Meadowdale hang on in for a 59-53 win over Oak Harbor Wildcats in a Wesco 3A boys basketball contest Friday night at Meadowdale High School.
The Mavericks shot 6 of 10 from the free throw line down the stretch, while making only 8 of 20 the rest of the game.
Free throw shooting has been a consistent problem for the team, as its struggles allow opponents to hang around. But like the rest of their season, early 3-point baskets propelled into leads for the Mavs. Though they ended up 8 for 22 from beyond the arc, they went 6 for 13 in the first half, which gave them a 31-23 lead at halftime.
The Wildcats, led by leading scorer Drew Washington, managed to get within 1 point of Meadowdale in the fourth quarter, but they failed to capitalize on the chances afterwards and were outscored 11-6 in the last four minutes. Washington and Dyllan Harris both fouled out with under two minutes to play, which did not help their cause. Griffin Over led all Maverick scorers with 17 points.
The Mavs started the game playing a man-to-man defense and stayed that way for almost the entire game. Oak Harbor got off to a quick 5-0 lead after Washington made a 3 over his defender. This was the only 3-pointer the Wildcats made until the fourth. Over came right back with a three of his own. Jacob Perkins tied the game when Barrett Carlow threw up an alley-oop that Perkins slammed down. The first half was all about quick possessions and getting fastbreaks. The Wildcats arguably had the more athletic players, but the Mavericks were able to keep up with them long enough to win. In the first, this sort of back-and-forth didn’t result in as many points as expected due to the failure on both sides of making their lay-ins or short jumpers.
The Mavs took their first lead of the night when Over hit another three-pointer to make it 8-7 with 3:30 to play in the first quarter. Zach Jones came back and went coast-to-coast for a lay-in to give the Wildcats a 1-point lead. But the Mavs went on a 6-0 run that was capped off by Over hitting his third 3-pointer in the first to give the Mavs a 14-11 lead with :30 left. On the Wildcats final possession, Harris cut through the Maverick defense and made a lay-in while being fouled. He missed the free throw, though, and Meadowdale held a 14-13 lead after the first quarter.
Meadowdale went on another 6-0 run to start the second. Malik Braxton made the first and then Harry White knocked down another 3. Those were White’s first points as a varsity player, and they gave the Mavs a 20-13 lead with 6:00 left. Immediately after, Washington went up and down the court and through the defense before putting up a floater that went in, bringing the score to 20-15. The teams continued to hustle all over the court, and for the next four minutes, there wasn’t a single possession that lasted more than 20 seconds. One of the baskets during this time came when Over drove from the baseline and made a reverse lay-in while being fouled to give the Mavs a 27-19 lead with 2:40 left. He missed the free throw. The teams traded a few more baskets before the half ended with the score 31-23 Meadowdale. The Mavs shot 6 of 13 from the three-point line in the half, while at the same time shot 5 of 12 from the free-throw line.
In the second half, the Wildcats came out with a more possession-driven offense. Rather than trying to tail it up the court for easy points in transition, they started to take their time and pass more. And it worked. Oak Harbor started on a 6-1 run, including a skyhook by Gabe Groenig, to cut the deficit to 32-29. Then Perkins made his first field goal since the alley-oop by making a lay-in to restore a 5-point lead with 5:00 left. A minute later, Over went coast-to-coast and made a reverse lay-in to make it 36-31. After that, Over made a 3-pointer to start a brief 6-0 run, which was capped by a lay-in from Carlow while being fouled. Carlow made the free throw to put the Mavs up 43-33 with 3:00 to play. Washington drove through the defense for a lay-in and was fouled on the way up. He too made the free throw to push the score to 43-36 Meadowdale. A minute before the half ended, Braxton drove in to the lane, jumped up, and passed to Perkins. He came down awkwardly and grabbed his ankle immediately. He would not return. The Mavericks led 43-36 at the end of the third quarter.
Harris made the first 3-pointer for the Wildcats since the first quarter to open up the fourth. The team was 0 for 14 from beyond-the-arc between the two threes. That started a short 6-0 run before White cut it off hit a lay-in for his first field goal of the game, bringing the score to 47-42. Then the Wildcats got within one when Zach Gibbs hit a 2-pointer while standing on the 3-point line. On Meadowdale’s next possession, Carlow got open off a screen, received the pass, and stepped up to make a huge 3-pointer to give the Mavs a 51-47 lead with 4:00 left. That was the closest the Wildcats would come. In the final 1:15 to play, the Mavs shot 6 of 10 from the free throw line to close out the game. Harris fouled out with a minute left and Washington did so with 0:38 to go and his team down four, and with two of their biggest scoring threats out of the game, the Wildcats were unable to mount a comeback.
With the win, the Mavs improve to 3-4 in the league and 9-5. Their next game is at 7:15 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 21 at Stanwood (7-0, 14-0), the only undefeated team left in Wesco.