Viking girls earned their third consecutive District Tournament title last Friday, beating Jackson 53-48 in Arlington.
Meanwhile the boys were scrapping and scratching to keep their season going, winning at Kamiak 71-53 on February 15 and disposing of Edmonds-Woodway by 57-51 at Jackson on Saturday.
Lake girls 53 Jackson 48 (District title game at Arlington Feb. 17)
A smoothly efficient first quarter in which Lake glided to a 22-12 lead became an alley fight after that from which Lake emerged victorious over a highly skilled Jackson team.
This one was similar to Lake’s 64-57 win at Jackson late in the regular season in which the latter cut an 11-point fourth quarter Viking lead down to a single point before Lake was able to pull away at the end.
This time, Lake took a 13-point lead early in the fourth quarter only to see Jackson cut that to two points with a little over two minutes remaining. Then sophomore Kali Long stepped up to rescue the game and the title for her team with the “play of the game” (details of that heroic gambit are recounted below).
Lake’s brilliant first quarter featured nine of 16 shooting including a trio of threes by Kati Goddard the last of which swished as the first quarter buzzer sounded.
That quarter saw Lake at its offensive best, with pinpoint passing and aggressive attacking of the basket. In addition to Goddard’s 11 points in the quarter Abby Molstre converted three driving lay-ins and Brooke Pahoka netted five points, with her twin sister Brittney dishing out five assists.
But Lake stuttered in the second quarter, its offense out of sync, its timing a bit off. Brooke’s lay-in early in the period was Lake’s only basket in 13 attempts and the Vikings scored just five points overall in the quarter.
Viking defense for its part held the Wolves to just four of 14 shooting in the quarter and nine points overall, as Lake held on to the lead by 27-21 at halftime.
Brittney spearheaded Lake’s third quarter revival with three baskets, including a three and a nifty move for a lay-in as the period ended with the Vikings on top by 43-32.
Lake’s up and down performance held true in the fourth quarter where, after taking a 45-32 lead at the outset it missed six straight shots in the next five and a half minutes while Jackson was mounting a 12-1 run to edge within 46-43.
Sparking Jackson’s comeback run were Kristen Stoffel and Kelli Kingma with four points each and baskets by Sierra Anderson and Hayley Gjertsen.
Kingma split a pair of free throws at 2:17 to pare Lake’s lead to 46-44 and Jackson had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead when Long stepped up to deliver the play of the game for Lake, stealing the ball and racing down court to convert a lay-in which she turned into a three-point play and a 50-44 margin with 1:46 left. Those were her only points of the game.
Molstre’s wide-open lay-in with 50 seconds left made it 52-44, virtually sealing the victory for the Vikings.
Lake could have made things much easier for itself had it not, unaccountably, suffered through a horrible second half at the free throw line, at one point missing eight consecutive tries. Lake was five of 17 at the line in the second half, nine of 23 overall. Lucky for the Vikings, Jackson also struggled there, going 10 of 18 for the game.
Viking boys 71 at Kamiak 53 (District loser-out game on Feb. 15)
This was the first of two gut-check loser-out games for the boys last week. In its previous game at Kamiak this season Lake was blown out by 72-60 and it seemed even worse than the final score.
Not this time. Lake took the floor as an inspired, revitalized team, full of energy, focus and mental and physical toughness. When Lake combines that with overall team play and balance, it has shown that it is capable of competing with the best.
After falling behind by 16-13 at the quarter break Lake overwhelmed Kamiak both offensively and defensively. The Knights made eight of its 16 shots in the first quarter but Lake smothered them thereafter, holding them to nine of 41 in the final three periods.
Lake took the lead in the second quarter on a six for eight flurry in a three minute period inspired by a pair of threes by Kevin Smith and two baskets by Christian Gasca, to lead by 31-27 at halftime.
Five different Vikings scored baskets in the third quarter which ended with Lake on top by 48-43.
Lake’s defense asserted itself in the fourth quarter, holding Kamiak without a single field goal in 12 attempts (including five three-point attempts).
Kamiak’s only points in the quarter came at the line where it went 10 of 12.
This was perhaps Lake’s best overall offensive effort of the season so far, sinking 26 of 49 field goals (including five of nine threes) for 53% Kamiak was 17 of 57 (including one of fifteen threes) for 30%.
Spotlighting Lake’s offensive precision was its 23 assists on 26 baskets. And the Vikings out-fought the bigger Knights on the boards, 39 rebounds to 33.
Smith, who in his previous game at Kamiak had one of his poorest shooting games of the season, reversed that this time, scoring 25 points on eight of 14 field goals. It was a very good sign when he sank a three in the game’s opening seconds; he finished five of eight from that range. He barely missed a double-double, with nine rebounds, along with four assists.
Vikng boys 57 Edmonds-Woodway 51 (Loser-out District game at Jackson)
Leary of the old basketball maxim that it is tough to beat a team three straight times (Lake defeated the Warriors 66-44 in the regular season and 63-55 in the District opener) Lake expected, and got, an all-out war in this battle to keep the season alive.
With the Vikings trailing going into the fourth quarter, it took exceptional desire, hustle and grit for Lake to pull out the victory. This was a physical battle similar to Lake’s come-from-behind 35-31 win against the Warriors in the state football playoffs. Two of Lake’s gridiron stars, Pahukoa and Gasca, are providing the same kind of physical and mental toughness and athletic smarts in basketball that they did in football.
With sophomore postman Travis Bakken scoring nine points for the Warriors in the opening quarter Lake was able to gain a 16-16 tie on Smith’s buzzer-beating three.
Edmonds-Woodway’s considerable height advantage was a major factor in its outscoring Lake by 10-3 in the final three minutes of the third quarter, to take a 41-38 lead entering the fourth. Four of the Warriors’ baskets in the quarter came on close-in baskets, two of which were by 6-8 junior center Henry Olson.
The Warriors’ attempt to go inside in the fourth were, however, mainly thwarted by Lake’s refusal to give ground underneath. Pahukoa, at 6-4 Lake’s tallest starter, was especially fierce underneath, grabbing seven highly contested rebounds in the quarter, as the game became increasingly physical.
Bakken and Olson were shut down in the quarter, missing all five of their close-in shots until Bakken’s put-back in the game’s final thirty seconds with Lake seven points ahead.
Stoen’s three at 4:52 followed by Pahukoa’s 16-footer half a minute later put Lake on top by 48-43. Edmonds-Woodway never got closer than three points after that.
Lake converted just three of its eight free throws in the final minute but they were enough to stave off the Warriors’ comeback efforts.
Major key to the win was Lake’s winning the rebounding battle (and it was a battle) 41 to 33.
Bakken was limited to a single basket in each of the final three quarters, finishing with 15 points. Guard Devin Joseph had 10 points by halftime but Lake held him to four points in the second half.