One of the more interesting developments in high school sports is watching how teams replace (or not replace) key players from the year before.
Nearly every season, teams are faced with glaring holes left in the wake of graduating seniors or players who transfer somewhere else. And each year coaches are left wondering how those holes will be filled.
The same happened heading into this season for Mountlake Terrace, a team that went 23-3 last year and made the state tournament. But the Hawks, while returning a core group from that team, also lost their two steady post players.
This season, though, Mountlake Terrace’s new big guys have stepped in – and up. Greg Bowman and Loren Lacasse are combining for more than 25 points and 16 rebounds per game in helping Terrace to an 11-2 start and a No. 8 ranking in Class 3A.
That story – and the reason for Garfield’s No. 2 ranking, the perfect start by Cedar Park Christian (Bothell), the most underrated division in the state and, of course, 4A, 3A and 2A rankings – can be found in this edition of TFQ.
Mountlake Terrace’s big guys answer the call
On the way down to his team’s game against Lincoln, then the second-ranked team in Class 3A, Mountlake Terrace coach Nalin Sood wondered how his team would stand up to its biggest of the season.
The Hawks were coming off a 23-3 season and a trip to the state tournament a year ago, but they lost some key pieces off that team, including post players Ryan Shannon and Coby Russell.
The Lincoln game was part of Sood’s preseason plan to harden his team with a tough nonconference schedule that included Eastlake from KingCo, Fairfax from California and, of course, the highly touted Lincoln Abes.
That day in early December, Sood’s team lost by a point to the Abes, now ranked first in 3A, but Sood boarded that same van after the game pleased with what his team showed.
“I drove down there wondering how it was going to be and were our guys going to step up?” Sood said. “And we rose to it tremendously.”
Mountlake Terrace has lost only one other game, to tough league opponent Glacier Peak.
The biggest question mark for the Hawks going into the season was the in the post, where Shannon and Russell had anchored Mountlake Terrace the year before. In their place stepped juniors Greg Bowman and Loren Lacasse.
The pair has more than held their own to this point. Bowman, a 6-foot-7 forward, is leading the Hawks in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounding (9 rebounds). Lacasse is averaging 11.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game and has erupted for some 20-point games this season.
“I equate it to back in 2005 the Seahawks lost an offensive lineman named Steve Hutchinson and they never really recovered from that,” Sood said. “It’s sort of the same with big guys. Ryan and Coby were our offensive lineman last year. Would we be able to replace that? But Greg and Loren have stepped into that.”
The Hawks have already knocked off Eastlake, a ranked 2A team in Mark Morris and a hot Shorewood group, but they still have plenty of room to grow. Sood said they’ve only played five games this season with all their players.
Blake Fernandez (10.5 points per game) missed the first part of the season with an injury and Marquis Armstead (12.5) then missed a few games for a violation of team rules.
The Hawks could once again make a run at the state tournament this year.
Garfield ascends to No. 2 ranking behind ‘mature’ team
Garfield’s basketball team relies heavily on a mix of players ranging in year from a freshman all the way up to a senior who has played four years on varsity. But the one thing the Bulldogs have in common is a collective maturity that has allowed second-ranked Garfield to start the year 11-1.
Six of Garfield’s 12 games have been decided by 10 points or less, as the Bulldogs have managed to find all the right answers in close games this year.
“The one thing I like about my team is we’re mature, and mature in the sense that there are games that we could have lost last year that we’re winning this year,” Garfield coach Ed Haskins said. “Those games are really good games to test our execution and things we want to do moving forward.”
The Bulldogs are led by Tucker Haymond, a four-year varsity player, who is averaging around 18 points per game. Haymond is fresh off his best offensive game of the year, having scored 32 points in an 11-point win against Skyline on Friday.
Equally important in terms of offensive production is 6-foot-5 senior forward Trevaunte’ Williams, who is averaging around 13.5 points per game.
The two senior leaders did some of their most important work – and showed why they are leaders – late in game against Newport on Jan. 4. They combined for 36 of Garfield’s 53 points in a three-point win against the 10th-ranked Knights.
“They’re ebony and ivory,” Haskins said. “They’re the one-two punch.”
Yet the Bulldogs have also won 11 straight because of their surrounding players.
Senior Aja Buchanan scored 16 points in a win against Issaquah earlier this year. Torrence Baker chipped in 10 points in a 10-point win against South Kitsap. Freshman Jashaun Agosto had a season-high eight points against Skyline on Friday. And Demario Hall, a senior guard, has increased his scoring since Christmas time.
Garfield lost its first game of the season by one point to Beamer, but the Bulldogs haven’t dropped a game since.
“Two things that have definitely helped us is our defensive intensity, our fight so to speak, and just the fact that we want to win,” Haskins said. “The taste that we had in our mouth after our first game this year, I don’t think these guys really want to feel that again.”
– Keep an eye on…Cedar Park Christian (Bothell). Playing in the Nisqually 1A League in basketball for the time season, the Eagles have raced out to a perfect 12-0 start, including 8-0 in league play. The Eagles won the Cactus Jam in Phoenix over the holidays, including a two-point win against 2A Lake Washington. Evan Scholten, a 6-foot-7 senior, is averaging 13.5 points per game. Trey Drechsel, a 6-foot-4 junior, is averaging 17.3 points and has scored more than 20 points six times; he’s only scored less than 10 points twice all year. Luke Sauferer, a 6-foot-3 senior, chips in 12.8 points; in his last eight games, he has scored at least 12 points.
– Beamer owns two of the area’s best wins: Beamer is 9-3 this season and 6-3 overall in SPSL league play, good for fourth-place in the SPSL 4A South. But the Titans might own the best wins in the area. In the opening week of the season, they knocked off Garfield, currently the No. 2 team in 4A, by a point. Then, on Friday night, the Titans pulled out a two-point win against Federal Way, who is currently ranked fifth in 4A and was ranked second at the time of the game. Bogdon Blivenyuk led the way against a full-strength Federal Way squad with 18 points and Juwan Flowers added 12. Federal Way actually led 29-15 at halftime, but Beamer made all the plays down the stretch.
– Most underrated division in the state: WesCo 3A South. There is little debate to the night-in and night-out quality of the Metro League. And most everyone can agree that KingCo and SPSL are generally tough leagues every year. But this year, I think one of the toughest – and certainly least heralded – divisions in the state is in the north. WesCo 3A South has only five teams, and three of them could very well be ranked in the top 10 in Class 3A (Right now, Mountlake Terrace and Shorewood are ranked, with Glacier Peak dropping out of the poll this week). Mountlake Terrace took No. 1 Lincoln to the wire, Glacier Peak has beaten Mountlake Terrace and Shorewood has won eight straight games since losing to Mountlake Terrace.
– Federal Way’s players return but result is the same: Federal Way lost its first game of the year on Tuesday to Emerald Ridge, a notable game not only because of the result but also because key players Brayon Blake and D’Londo and DeeShawn Tucker didn’t play because of disciplinary reasons. All three returned to the lineup in time for Friday’s game against Beamer, but Federal Way lost its second straight game. The Eagles had only played in one close game – a three-point win against Union – before dropping two straight. It will be interesting to see how the Eagles respond.
– Under the radar win of the week: Mount Si beats Bellevue, 62-58, on Saturday. The significance of Mount Si’s win against Bellevue is twofold. First, the Wildcats had just dropped a game against 2A Lake Washington the night before. Second, it made Mount Si (9-5) at 6-2 in league play, creating a tie in second place in KingCo 3A with…Bellevue (8-5). Trent Riley led the way with 21 points and Jason Smith added 12. Riley has been on a steady terror this season, averaging more than 20 points per game.
1. Bothell (13-0)
2. Garfield (11-1)
3. Jackson (14-0)
4. Central Valley (12-0)
5. Federal Way (11-2)
6. Richland (12-3)
7. Curtis (12-1)
8. Union (9-4)
9. Eastmont (12-1)
10. Newport (10-3)
Out: Olympia (8-3)
1. Lincoln (11-1)
2. Seattle Prep (13-1)
3. Rainier Beach (11-3)
4. Mercer Island (13-1)
5. Kamiakin (14-2)
6. Lakeside (10-2)
7. Foss (9-3)
8. Mountlake Terrace (11-2)
9. Franklin (11-3)
10. Shorewood (11-3)
Out: Glacier Peak (11-3)
1. Renton (14-0)
2. Lynden (12-1)
3. White River (12-2)
4. Pullman (14-1)
5. West Valley (Yakima) (12-2)
6. Clover Park (9-5)
7. Sequiem (10-3)
8. Centralia (11-3)
9. Wapato (10-2)
10. Washougal (10-4)
Out: Ellensburg (9-3), Mark Morris (9-4)