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Willits Wednesdays: A Lady Hawks team that will not be soon forgotten

By Steve Willits

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A very special season came to a sudden end at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma on February 28th. Lincoln defeated Mountlake Terrace 61-59 and with that the Hawks’ women’s basketball team just barely missed becoming the first team in the school’s history to make it to the state quarterfinals in the Tacoma Dome.

This was not the first time that I’ve broadcasted a season ending game for a Mountlake Terrace High School sports playoff team, but this one hurt the most. I’ve become emotionally attached to other Terrace teams that I’ve covered and I never like to see a season come to an end but this was different. It was a combination of a few things: the fact that there was so much at stake (a trip to the Tacoma Dome), high expectations and the slim margin of defeat. Coming up just a bit short when your primary goal is within your grasp is an empty feeling. Friday’s defeat definitely felt like a kick in the stomach.

This particular Terrace team was one that I ended up following and observing much closer than I had ever anticipated. I watched them progress and impress over the course of two years and it was a fun journey. As I’ve mentioned in other articles, I initially became a fan of this group at Jam Session back in November of 2012 when I first watched them play a scrimmage game against each other right before their season started. They weren’t the tallest team, they were young with only two seniors at that time and they weren’t even a team that struck me as being very talented and yet they played with a style that I appreciated. I could tell that they were a team that enjoyed basketball and they liked to compete and play hard. It seemed obvious to me that they weren’t a team at that time that was mature enough to win very many games but the promise and potential was there. They were a scrappy and resilient team that I think more or less characterized who we are collectively at MTHS and as a community. They were a team that ended up only winning seven games last year but through hard work and determination were able to improve themselves and became possibly the best girls’ basketball team in the school’s history.

I made my way out into the gym hallway after Friday’s loss and I must admit it was awkward. I really didn’t know what to say to anyone. All I knew was that standing up in the bleachers from where we were broadcasting wasn’t making me feel any better about the loss and yet I felt like I needed closure. A part of me wanted to stand out in that hallway where the Terrace parents and students were gathering so that I could tell the girls as they came out of the locker room that they were still champions in my mind and that not getting to the Tacoma Dome shouldn’t diminish the amazing season that they had. A season that saw them go 16-4 in the regular season and win a share of a WesCo Divison title for the first time since 1980. I wanted to let them know that I couldn’t have been more proud of the way that they improved from the previous season. That I appreciated the way that they constantly kept their composure when they would fall behind teams and often erase double digit deficits to win games that often seemed to be hopeless. I wanted to tell them that they were one of my all time favorite sports teams and that I was honored to have an opportunity to spend a handful of evenings this winter either watching them from the stands or being their Play by Play Announcer when we broadcasted their games on the Sound Live Sports Network. I wanted to say all of these things but the timing wasn’t right.

Most of the players were already out in the hallway by the time I came down from the bleachers and it was not a joyous occasion. Many of the players were crying which was completely understandable knowing that their great season had ended sooner than they had hoped. Losing a close meaningful game hurts badly, especially when you really care about something and put your heart and soul into it. This team had devoted so much to the game and to each other. It was an emotional scene and any words and thoughts that I had wanted to share would have to wait. Fortunately for me I get to write this article and hope that many of them will have a chance to read about my admiration.

I’m sure the disappointment of Friday’s loss will never completely go away however the positive memories of the team’s overall outstanding season will always overshadow one game. I had a chance to catch up with starting forward Maddy Kristjanson this week who assured me that the team’s collective memories are more about the good times. “This has been the best thing we all have been a part of. Not only because of the success of the season, but also the bonds we made with each other” said Maddy. She also went on to discuss how the bond translated to what they were able to accomplish as a team. “We were practically inseparable on and off the court. I think that played a big part in our success this year”.

I asked Maddy what some of the best memories were from the season and she referenced a few things: 1) beating Meadowdale for the first time in 26 years and oh by the way, they played the Mavs three times this year and won all three games. 2) Defeating Shorecrest on the Scots Senior Night on a Sam Romanowski 3 point shot at the buzzer 3) Terrace’s first ever win on Glacier Peak’s home court.

Maddy pointed out that the best memories can’t be restricted to just a few snapshot moments. “Our season was filled with so much excitement, I’d love to say every moment spent together as a team and program was our favorite memory”.

It was indeed a season with plenty of fantastic moments and it wasn’t just the team that got to experience the good times. Thank you Lady Hawks players and coaches for letting some of us jump on the bandwagon and join you. It was one heck of a ride and I will never forget it. Go Hawks!!

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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.
Willits Wednesdays: A Lady Hawks team that will not be soon forgotten