With a 64-55 win Friday at Stanwood, Lake Stevens passed its first big test of this young season.
Lake Stevens (3-0, 2-0) is now tied for first with Snohomish and finds itself ranked — at No. 9 — for the first time this season. By avenging a one-point loss at Stanwood last year, the Vikings took a huge step towards their goal of repeating as Wesco North champions.
Furthermore, Mark Hein’s defensive-minded and unselfish outfit looks like a state-tournament team once again.
Despite losing three of their top four scorers, four returning players saw time in every game last year — and all were among the team’s top eight scorers: second-leading scorer Shane Kaska, Mike Schneider, Aaron Maw and Chris Finley. (Fifth-leading scorer Arvid Isaksen, who also appeared in every game as a junior, hasn’t played yet this season due to a foot injury suffered in football.)
So even with the loss of workhorse center Sean Stickney (17 ppg and 10 rpg at Skagit Valley College), who averaged 25.5 points at state to help lead the Vikings to an eighth-place finish, they still entered this season as the North favorites.
“Lake Stevens is good and there’s a reason they were picked first,” said Stanwood coach Zach Ward, whose team is 1-3, 1-1 entering tonight’s home contest against Arlington.
Seven of the eight players in Lake Stevens’ rotation are seniors, and the other is blossoming 6-7 sophomore Lorin Vandegrift. Moreover, Lake Stevens’ scoring is extremely balanced: Kaska, Maw, and Jarett Hanson (who averaged less than a point per game last season) are averaging between 11 and 14 points.
Lake Stevens, which ended a 26-year state drought last year, hosts Monroe (1-2, 1-1) tonight.