Hawks earn a trip to the T-Dome

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Ryan Shannon dunks as the Rowdy Rooters and Gators look on in the third quarter of Friday's game.

By AnhViet Nguyen

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The MTHS men’s basketball team’s last stop on the road to dome was a successful one.

Terrace (23-1) pulled away in the second half to defeat the Decatur Gators 77-62 at Jackson H.S. in the 3A regional matchup. The win sends the Hawks to the state tournament in Tacoma next Thursday and puts them among the final eight teams standing in the 3A classification. Terrace’s last appearance in the state tournament came in 2009.

Junior guard Marquis Armstead led the Hawks with 24 points, 15 of them coming in the second half when Terrace outscored Decatur (18-7) 44-31.

Terrace’s tough defense stepped up and helped create easy offense, including a pair of crowd pleasing dunks in the third quarter by senior post Ryan Shannon.

“Keep playing defense. That’s what we strive on every day in practice,” Armstead said.

Fellow junior guard Blake Fernandez echoed his teammate’s comments.

“If we keep pressing them for 32 minutes, they’re going to end up getting tired. We have depth, we don’t get tired. It’s just waves coming at them,” Fernandez said. He finished with 15 points before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.

Despite shooting poorly in the first half (9/29, 31 percent), Decatur kept it close with senior guard Dom Hunter’s shooting. Hunter led the Gators with 23 points. Decatur, the No. 5 seed out of the West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament, also received contributions from Abraham Ferrell-Logan (15 points) and Markus Rawls (11 points).

But the Hawks played better when it mattered most, which had a lot to do with the game plan and preparation leading up to the game.

“We just told the guys to work, stay positive, and if you’re going to make mistakes, make aggressive mistakes, and think about what we talked about before the game. We weren’t going to change anything,” MTHS head coach Nalin Sood said. “Our big focus for us today was getting the ball into the paint. Hopefully people saw it but Marquis was still our leading scorer.”

On paper, Terrace had a size and height advantage and used it to control the game from the tipoff, jumping out to a quick 12-2 lead.

The Hawks prepared by watching game film on Decatur and used assistant coaches Luke Hammond and Adrian Blake, two former players who played in the state tournament from 2003-2005 for Terrace, to simulate Decatur’s guard play.

Decatur’s largest run came in the first quarter when the Gators went on a 9-0 run with Terrace’s Shannon on the bench with early foul trouble. When Shannon, who added 17 points, reentered the game in the second quarter, Terrace recaptured the lead and never looked back.

For the Hawks, their season continues as they march into the Tacoma Dome next Thursday. It is the first time that the players have reached the state tournament and it is another accomplishment to add to a near perfect run that began in the fall with preseason workouts.

“It feels amazing. That was our goal from day one and it feels good to be able to go there finally,” Armstead said.

When the Hawks travel south to Tacoma, the Rowdy Rooters will most certainly be there in full force. While the basketball team has been playing well, the student section has been getting even louder.

“As usual, we’re just trying to keep up with the fans. We’re just trying to keep up with our fan support,” Sood said.

“I’m proud that Mountlake Terrace High School is going to go to Tacoma. Everybody has rallied around this basketball team and they’re a team that is easy to support but we’re going to go play against some good basketball teams,” Sood said. “I just told them to enjoy this until Sunday and then we’ll start thinking about the next phase. I really think that this is the end of the the beginning. This team can achieve whatever they want to.”

The Hawks find out who they will face in the state tournament on Sunday when the WIAA announces the state tournament draw via live broadcast for the first time ever at 3:30 p.m. The draw will be announced on http://www.wiaanetwork.com/.

Though the Hawks have completed the road to dome, the journey doesn’t end until the road stops.

“It’s not going to feel good if we go there and lose,” Fernandez said. “We’re going for the ‘Ship right now.”

 

At Jackson H.S.

Decatur- 15 16 10 21 — 62
Mountlake Terrace- 15 18 23 21 — 77

Gators: Bartley 4, Hunter 23, Young 6, Rawls 11, Locascio 0, Rollins 0, Wilson 0, Larkins 0, Olufson 3, Coulibally 0, Castro 0, Ferrell-Logan 15.

Hawks: Zerom 5, A. Moisant 0, Fernandez 15, Shannon 17, Lotz 0, Armstead 24, Bowman 2, E. Moisant 3, Lacasse 2, Russell 9.