The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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Feeling optimistic after hoops loss to Franklin. Feeling proud of the MTHS generosity this month

Feeling optimistic after hoops loss to Franklin. Feeling proud of the MTHS generosity this month

I watched the Mountlake Terrace Hawks men’s basketball team play two games last weekend. They defeated Meadowdale 57-44 on Friday night and then lost on Saturday night to Franklin 58-53. It is unusual to have a situation in which you feel better about a loss than you do a win but that was the case this time around. Terrace’s performance against Franklin gave me much greater confidence about the remainder of the season than the Meadowdale game did.

I couldn’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu as I walked through the parking lot and got ready to leave Highline Community College after the loss to Franklin. For the second straight year the Hawks played against a state-ranked opponent in a December holiday invitational game held at the HCC gymnasium and for the second straight year they lost a very close game that wasn’t decided until the final minute (last year the Hawks lost 70-69 against a powerful Lincoln team). The similarities don’t stop there. On both occasions it was the Hawks’ first loss of the season and yet somehow my expectations for a successful season increased after each of the games. Last year’s Hawks ended up with a 23-4 overall record en route to a fourth place finish at the state tournament. It remains to be seen if this year’s team can have similar success, but if Saturday night was any indication, the Hawks could be poised for big things in the next couple of months.

The Franklin Quakers are one of those teams that just always seem to be loaded with talent and this year is no exception. Senior Eugene Artison is 6’8” tall, lean and athletic. He has already accepted an offer to play college basketball at Fresno State University upon graduation. Sophomore Keith Smith is a 6’5” guard and the University of Washington is already trying to get him to play for the Huskies starting in 2016. These two outstanding players and their teammates looked very imposing when they walked onto the court on Saturday, but once the ball was in play, the Hawks hung with them right up until the very end.

The most positive thing that I took away from the Franklin game is that Greg Bowman is even better than he was last year. That is saying something since Greg was already dominating most of his opponents during his junior year. Greg ended up scoring 25 points and pulled down seven rebounds, which are excellent numbers against a team like Franklin. The fact that Greg is averaging more than 21 points per game is impressive enough, but it is the way in which he is doing it that should concern Terrace’s upcoming competition. Last season most of Greg’s points were coming down low near the basket. This year he is still posting up his opponents, but is also playing more outside the 3-point line.

The proof is in the statistics. Last year through the first 23 games of the season, Greg made 13 of his 48 3-point attempts. This year after five games he has made 15 out of 34 shots he has taken from behind the 3-point line. That means Greg has made 44 percent of his 3-point shots and is shooting from outside the arc far more frequently. Talk about adding an element to your offensive arsenal! The last thing a defense wants to have to worry about is a 6’7” post player who can hit a high percentage of long distance shots. This element forces one of the opposing team’s tallest players to come away from the basket and guard Greg when he has the ball on the perimeter. Consequently, Greg’s defender has to guard against the potential of an outside shot. Greg can then exploit the defender by either driving to the basket or making it easier for his teammates to receive the ball down low against a shorter player.

Greg’s offense wasn’t the only part of his game that was working on Saturday. His defense was also outstanding. He ended up guarding the aforementioned Artison during most of the game and held him to just 14 points. Not bad considering Artison had scored 27 points in each of his previous two games prior to playing the Hawks. Greg’s all-around game is phenomenal and there aren’t too many players in the state of Washington who can match up with him.

As if it isn’t difficult enough for the opposing team to have Greg knocking down outside shots, Loren LaCasse is also shooting more from behind the arc this year and isn’t missing very often. Last year Loren was five out of 14 from behind the 3-point line through 23 games. This year after five games he is 13 for 30, making 43 percent of his long-distance shots. Loren also managed to get seven rebounds against Franklin and is averaging nine rebounds this season. Loren also has the second most assists for the Hawks this year and is doing a nice job of distributing the ball. Having two post players as versatile as Greg and Loren creates quite the match up dilemma for Terrace opponents.

One of the reasons Greg and Loren have been able to play on the wings more often this year is the emergence of another post player, senior Yoel Tekle. Yoel scored seven points and had six rebounds against Franklin and is averaging seven rebounds a game. I’ve really been impressed with Yoel’s post moves down low and his ability to get himself in position for short range baskets or the nice jump-hook shot that he uses when needed.

The big men weren’t the only ones getting it done against Franklin, however. Matt Moisant, a junior, showed on Saturday night that he can play defense at a high level. Moisant was assigned to guard sophomore superstar Keith Smith in the second half of the game and he did a solid job. Smith ended up scoring 29 points in the game, but most of those came in the first half before the Hawks made the adjustment to have Matt guard him. The Hawks aren’t going to see too many other guards this year that are the caliber of Smith. If Matt plays like that all season long, the opposing team’s top guard is going to have a heck of a time trying to score and drive to the basket.

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The other varsity players who saw action on Saturday night also played well and, more importantly, they picked up valuable experience against an athletic Franklin team. The Quakers play an up-tempo style of basketball that Terrace doesn’t see in WesCo. Having first year varsity players like Isaiah Green, Yonnas Tewolde, Prescott Day and Gabe Altenberger have the opportunity to go against a quicker team will pay off later on in the season if the Hawks are able to make it into the district playoffs and hopefully beyond.

Of course it would have been nice to be writing about a victory over Franklin instead of a five point loss but this game was more about lessons learned and experience gained. There are still 15 games to play before the regular season comes to an end and the playoffs begin. I’m not ready to make any bold predictions just yet as it is still early in the season, but I do know that the team that I watched play Franklin on Saturday has a lot of potential and it should be another fun year to be a Mountlake Terrace basketball fan.

 

The Best Statistic of the Week Has Nothing To Do With Sports

I’m a numbers guy and it isn’t uncommon for me to talk about MTHS statistics when broadcasting or writing about Hawks sports. Normally when I mention my favorite Terrace stats I am talking about Brett Potter tackles, Chance Ragsdale rushing yards, Greg Bowman points, Maddie Kristjanson home runs or Dominic DeMiero’s earned run average.

All are fun and important to the athletes and their respected teams, however I now have a couple of new Terrace stats that are my favorites: 25,718 cans and 11,800 pounds.

That is how much food Mountlake Terrace High School collected in December for the local food bank. I couldn’t be more proud of my alma mater for helping make the holiday season more enjoyable for members of our community who are in need. I cover sporting events for Mountlake Terrace and that is my primary focus when writing these articles, however I am a citizen of this community first and foremost and I couldn’t write this week without referencing this amazing act of kindness displayed by the students, faculty and everyone else who donated this year.

Will Khadivi was the leader behind this massive undertaking as part of his senior project. Will is an incredibly gifted student and who has won awards for past accomplishments, however this might be the most important thing he has ever done. 25,718 cans might be a statistic, but to the families who will receive these generous offerings this holiday season, it is far more than a number. I sincerely hope that someone in the Class of 2015 decides to take on this responsibility next year and build on the success of this drive because it means so much to so many.

Happy Holidays to all of you and your families. Go Hawks!

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