Plenty of reasons to be excited about Jam Session XX next Tuesday

By Steve Willits

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Jam Session XX is coming up next Tuesday and I can’t wait!

My introduction to Jam Session last year brought a look of disbelief to the face of Vince DeMiero. A few

weeks prior to the 2012 event, I was asked by Vince if I would be his co-host and my immediate reply to

him was “What is Jam Session?”

Vince couldn’t believe that I didn’t know about Jam Session. After all, it has become one of Mountlake

Terrace High School’s premier sporting events of the year dating back to 1994 and it is the first

opportunity of the season for the public to get acquainted with the Hawks men’s and women’s

basketball teams. How on earth could an MTHS alum like myself not know about Jam Session? An alum

who since graduating in 1991 has spent most of his adult life around the community and has tried to

catch a few basketball games a year even before becoming the play-by-play announcer. An alum who

has stayed in contact with head coach Nalin Sood and other members of the coaching staff throughout

the years. Was I really unaware of what Jam Session was? It is true, I had no idea. However, that

changed after attending last year’s Jam Session and now I’m hooked.

The premise of Jam Session is fairly simple and is very similar to what many major colleges refer to

as “Midnight Madness,” the one main difference being that colleges start their events at midnight.

It is essentially a glorified basketball scrimmage that is open to the public, but with an element of

entertainment to persuade people to attend.

Jam Session XX will take place on Tues., Nov. 26 and doors open to the public at 5:30 p.m. The cost to

attend is $5 or you can pay $3 and donate canned food or a blanket. All donation items will go to the

Mountlake Terrace Food Bank.

The men’s and women’s varsity basketball teams will be taking part in scrimmages against their

teammates (no, the guys will not be playing against the girls, the genders will be divided up and

scrimmaging their own teams). The scrimmage is going to be set up much like a game with referees and

score will be kept so that it won’t have too much of a practice feel to it. Other activities that the players

will be participating in are a 3 point shooting contest (this time guys against girls) and a slam dunk

contest for the boys.

The fun doesn’t stop with just basketball though as there will be additional entertainment for the

attendees to enjoy. The cheer squad and HipHop team will be performing, prizes will be distributed and

DJ Tilt (aka Jesse Strek, an MTHS alum) will be pumping great music throughout the night.

A new wrinkle has also been added to Jam Session this year as there will also be a men’s basketball

alumni game featuring former Terrace Hawks players. That game will be coached by two of the MTHS

assistant coaches. Al Shannon, an MTHS alum himself and father of former Terrace player Ryan Shannon

will coach one team. Greg Wirtz who has been involved with the MTHS basketball program since the

1980s will coach the other team. Players who have committed to play in the inaugural alumni game

include Mike Boxley, Luke Hammond, Johnny Phillips, Ryan Webb, Blake Fernandez, Jesse Zerom,

Michael Lotz and Tyler Stracener. Coach Sood and his staff are in the process of adding more names to

that list – a list that I have no doubt will be very impressive. The alumni game is certain to be one of the

main highlights of the night.

MTHS has a very rich basketball tradition and the list of players is awesome. Getting players from

different eras to come back for one night and to play against and with one another is worth the price of

admission itself. Having a chance to watch guys like Boxley and Webb, two players who went on to have

distinguished college careers at Seattle University, playing on the same court as 2013 state tournament

participants Fernandez, Zerom and Lotz will be interesting and will bring flashbacks for many of us that

had the pleasure of watching all of them play at the Terraceum over the years.

The entertainment and the prizes themselves are always good but as a basketball fan and as the Play by

Play Announcer for both teams, I am very interested to see what the current Hawks teams are going to

look like heading into the new season.

The men’s team is the squad that received the most notoriety over the past few years and they are the

team coming off of back-to-back trips to the Tacoma Dome. They finished last season with a record

of 23 wins and 4 losses on their way to a 4th place finish at the WIAA State Tournament. There is good

news and bad news for the Hawks coming into the fall. The good news is that Greg Bowman and

Loren LaCasse are both returning after producing excellent junior seasons. Together they might be the

best front court tandem in the entire state. The bad news is that starting guards Jesse Zerom, Blake

Fernandez and Marquis Armstead have all graduated as have super substitute players Michael Lotz and

Yohans Tewolde. This has created a void in the line-up that other younger players are going to have to

fill.

Fortunately for the Hawks, they have been down this road before. They were in a similar situation last

year when Ryan Shannon and Coby Russell graduated in 2012 and everyone wondered who was going

to take their place, that is when Bowman and LaCasse stepped in. The Hawks JV team won the WesCo

Championship last season so we know that there is a lot of talent that has yet to see much action at the

varsity level. Now we just need to see if any of them can step up to the next level much the way that

Bowman and LaCasse did last year.

Unlike the men’s team from last year, the women only had two seniors on the entire roster and

therefore we already have a general idea as to what their personnel looks like. The big question for

them will be to see if they can continue to improve on the success that they started to have in the latter

part of last season. They were a team that after winning their season opener against Sultan last year

went on an eight game losing streak and appeared to be heading toward an awful season. As is often

the case with young teams though, the ladies got better as they continued to play and they ended the

season by winning six of their final 10 games including impressive victories over some of the better

teams in WesCo (Everett, Shorewood and Shorecrest).

It will be fun to see if the girls can take that experience and momentum from last year and continue

to build on it with their new head coach Zach Wilde, an assistant coach at Shorecrest last season. My

prediction is that this team will be in the District playoffs at the end of the season and if everything goes

well, they could be one of the better women’s teams that Terrace has had in a long time. Samantha

Romanowski, Nikki Froehlich and Maddy Kristjanson all received WesCo honors individually last year and

they have a handful of teammates with valuable returning varsity experience. This is definitely a team

worth checking out.

Jam Session XX is going to be the place to be next Tuesday night. Come for the basketball, come for the

entertainment and come to have a great time. I hope to see many of you at the Terraceum next week.

Go Hawks!

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