Back in November, when discussing season goals for his Mavericks basketball team, head coach Roger O’Neill had his sights set on building on last year’s team– a team that qualified for districts, but struggled in the tournament.
Wednesday night, they reached that goal. Hosting Ferndale in a second round 3A District 1 boys tournament game, Meadowdale defeated the physical Golden Eagles from the Northwest Conference, 60-55, at Meadowdale High School for their first district playoff game win in seven years.
Feb. 16, 2011 marked the last time that the Mavericks emerged victorious in a district playoff game, when they beat Shorewood 59-54.
In a second-round District 1 game, the Mavs and the visiting Ferndale Golden Eagles took to the court fighting for their basketball lives. The loser of this game would be eliminated from the tournament; their season finished. The winner would continue to play another loser-out game on Friday.
The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair, with Ferndale taking a one-point lead with a minute to play in the period on a score by senior forward Reid Benson. Then, with less than 10 seconds to play, Meadowdale’s Dan Barhoum stole an errant pass at half court and took it home, scoring with 3.2 seconds on the clock while being fouled by guard Cody Gunter to give the Mavericks a 16-15 lead.
Barhoum missed the subsequent free throw, but Will Schafer grabbed a high rebound, turned and let loose a fall-away jump shot from the baseline that fell through the net as time expired for the quarter, with the Mavs leading 18-15.
Meadowdale extended its lead to as many as six in the second quarter, but the Golden Eagles scored the final five points over the last two minutes to trail by just one at the half, 27-26.
The third quarter was all Mavericks as they outscored the Golden Eagles 17-10, led by Justin Chambers with eight of his game-high 21, including two key 3-pointers.
Chambers and the Mavs rode that momentum into the opening minutes of the final quarter, culminating with another Chambers 3-pointer with 5:26 to play in the game that made the score 51-38, prompting a Ferndale timeout.
The Golden Eagles cut that lead to as little as three points with a score of 58-55 and less than ten seconds to play, but Chambers would put the game away, when he converted on two free throws with 4.5 seconds remaining, ultimately winning the game with a final score of 60-55.
Leading all scorers on the night, Chambers finished with 21 points. Making that even more impressive was the fact that he had sat out practice Monday and Tuesday due to illness.
“He’s a gamer. I knew he’d be ready one way or another,” said head coach Roger O’Neill. “He was still at practice, so he knew our game plan and everything, but he couldn’t go. So when he comes out today, I said, you good to go? And he said, yeah. He hits big shots. That’s what he does. He’s not afraid of any moment. He’ll step up and make a play.”
Other key contributors for the Mavericks Wednesday night were seniors Dan Barhoum, who nearly had a triple-double on the night, recording seven points, 16 rebounds and eight assists; and Okeoma Okoro, who had 10 points and eight rebounds, as well as the assignment of guarding Ferndale’s standout Benson.
“Oak had a great game, 10 points, 8 rebounds,” O’Neill said. “You know that match-up with 55 (Benson), Oak’s probably the biggest, most physical, maybe not the tallest, but strongest guy he’s faced all year. He goes for 19 points tonight, but he had to shoot 18 shots to get there, and I thought Oak made him work a lot for everything he had. Benson’s a really good player.”
Meadowdale will try to get the first of those two games required to advance to the Regional round, Friday night, when they will face the Shorecrest Scots in another loser out game. In a regular-season match-up, the Scots defeated the Mavericks, 68-53 on Jan. 2. The game Friday will be played at Jackson High School with tip off at 6 p.m.
Boys Basketball: Ferndale at Meadowdale, Feb. 14
Ferndale 15 11 10 19 —55
Meadowdale 19 09 17 16 —60
Ferndale scoring: Reid Benson 19, James Hinson 11, Stewart Freeman 8, Cody Gunter 7, Sequoyah Julius 7, AJ Rankin 3
Meadowdale scoring: Justin Chambers 21, Will Schafer 12, Okeoma Okoro 10, Colton Walsh 8, Daniel Barhoum 7, Drew Harvey 2
Records: Meadowdale 12-11 overall; Ferndale 11-10 overall
Meadowdale’s next game: versus Shorecrest, Feb. 16, 6 p.m. at Jackson High School
Ferndale’s next game: Eliminated from the playoffs, season is over.
–Story and photos by Scott Williams