VIKINGS BRING HOME
The Lake Stevens Vikings, Wesco North champions, closed out their remarkable season by bringing home a trophy from last week’s
State 4A Basketball Tournament in Tacoma. MIKE ANDERTON | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Photos by Rolin Meyer
The Lake Stevens Vikings, Wesco North champions, closed out their remarkable season by bringing home a trophy from last week’s State 4A Basketball Tournament in Tacoma.
Picked as the 16th best team in the field of 16 by the Seattle Times, Lake knocked off two of the pre-tournament favorites, Decatur and Eisenhower of Yakima, to snare the 8th-place prize.
Lake, proved to itself and to the world that it belongs among Washington’s big school elite. In the process of making its mark at State, Lake rode a fantastic all-around performance by forward Sean Stickney, who led all scorers in the tournament with a 24.5 scoring average and also in total rebounds with 47. Stickney’s heroics should have earned him the tournament’s most valuable player award but it did place him on the All-Tournament first team, where he is among very lofty company. Garfield 54, Lake 39
Don’t be fooled by the final margin, Lake was in contention in this one until midway through the fourth quarter. The Vikings trailed by just 28-27 halfway into the third quarter and had two chances to grab the lead, when a series of Garfield steals led to easy buckets for the Bulldogs, who pulled away to a less than imposing win.
Had Lake not committed 25 turnovers and had it not shot poorly the Vikings would have been in this game down to the wire. Viking coach Mark Hein attributed this in part to Lake’s opening-game “deer in the headlights” reaction to being on the big stage of State. Afterwards, in assessing their performance, Viking players concluded that they could, in fact, compete with the state’s very best teams.
Garfield’s Tony Wroten, Jr., considered by some to be the nation’s most talented sophomore, was frustrated by the Viking defense throughout the game. Wroten was held to seven points on 3-for-10 shooting and turned the ball over eight times. Not a single Bulldog was in double-figure scoring.
Both teams struggled to find their offense throughout the game. Lake missed its final eight shots of the first quarter, to trail by 12-6.
In the second quarter Stickney began his brilliant tournament run, scoring five baskets, which, along with a Kaska three, accounted for all of Lake’s points as it edged to within 24-19 at halftime.
A pair of Kaska baskets, chopped Garfield’s lead to 28-27, but seven turnovers in the quarter resulted in the Bulldogs upping that to 36-29 entering the fourth.
Six more Viking turnovers in the final quarter helped Garfield make seven of its eight shots, as Lake fell steadily farther behind, losing by 54-39.
Lake, paced by Stickney’s nine rebounds, notched a 33-27 advantage in that department, and he also led Lake in scoring with 16 points. Lake 59, Decatur 56
This is the win that stamped Lake as one of the state’s best teams. Decatur, loaded with quickness and talent, was figured to challenge for the championship.
A newly confident and energized Viking team competed well in this game from start to finish, stunning the Gators with a fourth-quarter rally.
Lake’s shooting turned cold in the third quarter, just two for 12, while Decatur’s heated up, seven for 10, for a 20-5 difference that put Lake behind by 50-40.
TJ Dodge opened the fourth with a three, and over the next two minutes Stickney took command of the game, scoring nine straight points to give Lake a 52-50 lead with 5:35 left.
Decatur surged back with a 6-point run to lead by 56-52 with three and a half minutes left. With 3:11 remaining Isaksen took a charging foul from Decatur star player Tibbs which led at 2:55 to Stickney’s lay-in cutting it to 56-54.
That was the beginning of a 7-0 closing run for Lake.
Kaska’s three at 1:35 gave Lake a 57-56 lead and proved to be the winning basket (his only points of the second half).
Decatur missed its final six shots of the game, two of them threes.
Stickney’s pressure-packed pair of free throws with 17 seconds left gave Lake its final 59-56 margin of victory, accomplished in one of the most physically grueling and brutally combative games of the season.
In the fourth quarter Lake completely reversed Decatur’s domination of the previous quarter, shooting 7 for 10 and outscoring the Gators by 19-6. Lake 50, Eisenhower of Yakima 49
For one of the rare times this season Lake was out-rebounded, but only by 34-33. Lake cut its turnovers down to 12, to 13 for Decatur.
Players dream of stepping to the line in the State Tournament for a pair of free throws with their team down by one point and one second left on the clock, but very few ever realize that situation. But that’s exactly where Stickney found himself against Eisenhower of Yakima (rated second in the state in one ranking). Stickney made the dream come true when he sank both shots to cinch a trophy for the Vikings.
Despite having three players collapse on him every time he touched the ball down deep, Stickney came through with another monster game -- 25 points and 13 rebounds. Lake needed every bit of that bravado
to pull out a thrilling, historic victory -- its first state trophy since 1982 when the Vikings finished in third place in the 3A tournament.
This was a great game from start to finish between two very evenly matched squads fighting to stay alive. The biggest lead for either team was six points by Lake early in the second quarter and by Eisenhower with two minutes left in the game. Lake trailed 9-7 after one quarter, then scored eight straight points, spurred by three quick baskets by Ryan Legg, who played his most aggressive offensive game of the season, finishing with 14 points. Legg drove the entire court to score a lay-in, followed by a 16-foot jumper, then a breakaway lay-in off a court-length feed by Kaska. Stickney polished off the run with a six-footer, and Lake led 15-9 just three minutes into the second quarter. Stickney scored Lake’s final four baskets of the quarter, but a trio of baskets by Robert Bonzer kept Eisenhower close, trailing by 21-20 at halftime.