By David Pan/Lynnwood Today editor
An undersized Meadowdale team stood toe to toe with a much taller opponent Monday in the Rebel Challenge girls basketball tournament.
The Mavericks kept W.F. West in check, holding last year’s Class 2A runner-up to seven points under their average offensive output this season.
The only problem is that Meadowdale’s offense struggled in the second half and the Bearcats eventually wore down the Mavericks en route to a 43-28 non-conference victory at Juanita High School.
First-year Meadowdale coach Marcus Merrifield liked the defensive effort from his team. W.F. West’s roster included two 6-foot-3, one 6-2 and one 6-0 player, while the Mavericks countered with one 6-1 player in senior center Ndey Sonko.
“Defensively that was a tremendous effort,” Merrifield said. “We frustrated them. We really didn’t give them that many opportunities at the rim. Our defensive effort was fantastic.
“There’s a lot to build off of. Teams that go big against us, we can defend. Once the shots start falling for us, things get a little bit easier.”
After scoring back-to-back baskets to take a 17-16 lead early in the third quarter, Meadowdale went flat and W.F. West took advantage, going on a 15-1 run to take a 31-18 lead into the fourth quarter.
A 3-pointer by Meadowdale’s Ciarra Hart cut the deficit to 31-21 at the 6:30 mark but that would be as close as the Mavericks would get the rest of the game.
“I thought that we got a little discouraged offensively,” Merrifield said. “We missed shots at the rim that we usually make.”
Sonko scored all of her team-high eight points in the first half. The Bearcats came out in man-to-man in the first half and then switched it up to a zone defense in the second half.
“When they went to their zone, we had a hard time getting it inside (to Sonko),” Merrifield said. “They’ve got so much length that it’s hard to get it into the middle. … We didn’t get her touches early enough against the zone.”
Meadowdale beat Roosevelt 52-45 and lost to Holy Names 65-43 in earlier tournament games.
“I wanted to play tough competition that forced us to make plays and I think we got that against Roosevelt,” Merrifield said. “We had to come down the stretch and make plays to win that game.”
The Mavericks (2-7 overall) have played some of the top teams in the area, including Lynnwood (6-0), Edmonds-Woodway (5-2), Glacier Peak (10-0) and Bothell (6-3).
“It’s never easy dealing with losses,” Merrifield said. “But I think it does teach us about ourselves.”
Meadowdale has a bye this Friday and resumes league play against Shorecrest on Jan. 8.
The Mavericks’ defense and intensity are fine. The focus in practice will be on offense.
“I feel really encouraged about our intensity and about our ability to defend,” Merrifield said. “We have some time to get some work done. We’re going to shoot the ball a lot and we’re going to work on our offense. We’re going to start figuring some things out offensively.
“Getting easy hoops, that’s where confidence comes from.”