Mavericks overcome slow start to secure elusive district playoff berth | Girls basketball

By David Pan | Feb 15, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan Meadowdale’s Lilly Williams looks to pass the ball against Shorewood.

Meadowdale showed that it’s not how you start a game but how you finish it.

The Mavericks overcame a nightmarish start to defeat Shorewood 50-39 and claim their first district playoff berth in seven years.

After trailing 13-2 late in the first quarter, the Mavericks regrouped to outscore the Thunderbirds 45-25 the rest of game and went on to win the 3A district tournament play-in game Wednesday, Feb. 7, at Shorewood High School.

“It means a lot,” sophomore Lilly Williams said of the playoff victory. “It’s been seven years since we’ve been. So we know that we really wanted to break the streak of not going. That was what gave us our momentum to push really hard tonight.”

Meadowdale graduate Caitlyn Houvener was excited to be headed to the district playoffs in her third year as head coach.

“It’s been a long time coming for the Meadowdale Lady Mavs to get to districts,” she said. “These girls have put in so much work all year. I’m just so proud of them and so honored to be on this journey with them and to be able to keep coaching them.”

The Thunderbirds jumped out to a 11-0 lead and took a 14-5 advantage into the second quarter. That’s when momentum started to shift. Shorewood extended its lead to 23-11 with about three minutes left. The Mavericks closed the period on an 8-0 run to trim the deficit to four points – 23-19.

“It gave us a lot of confidence going into the second half knowing that it was right there at the tip of our fingertips and being able to get that push and get those points when we needed to,” said Williams, who scored a game-high 15 points.

Houvener attributed the tough first quarter to nerves. None of the players have any postseason experience.

“The nerves got the best of us,” the Meadowdale coach said. “We’re young and this is the first time we’ve been in this situation.”

The Mavericks did have experience in falling behind early against opponents and finding a way to get back into the game.

“There have been games where we’ve gotten down in that first quarter and we’ve been able to fight back,” Houvener said. “I wasn’t worried. We just had to make some adjustments and settle down.”

Meadowdale picked up right from where it left off with an 11-0 run to take a 32-26 lead midway through the third period. Williams hit a pair of 3-pointers and sophomore Alicia Morrison scored four points.

“My teammates did a really good job of finding me,” Williams said. “Shorewood, they were guarding me really tight and really well and I was just having to work hard to get the shots off.”

Meadowdale (9-14) took a 36-30 lead into the fourth quarter. A pair of free throws by Shorewood’s Davi Borronmeo cut the Meadowdale lead to 36-35 at the 4:41 mark. Meadowdale freshman Kaisha Stark then sank a 3-pointer and Williams followed with another basket to extend the lead to 41-35 with 3:35 remaining. Meadowdale closed out the contest with a 9-4 run to secure the victory.

The Mavericks shifted to their press in the second quarter and the Thunderbirds (9-12) struggled under the pressure.

“The girls started stepping up on the defensive end and getting stops,” Houvener said. “We were able to wear them out I feel like and cause them to turn it over a little bit more so that helped us. It also created some momentum on the offensive end for us. It was a good adjustment and the girls played hard and just really took ownership in the win.”

Meadowdale freshman Fatoumata Jaiteh scored 13 points and also was a strong presence on the boards. Morrison finished with 11 points.

The Mavericks have no seniors on the roster, so the experience of playing in the district playoffs should pay off in the future

“They’re going to be back next year,” Houvener said. “Districts is a lot different playing atmosphere than playing regular league games.”

Meadowdale’s reward for its play-in victory was a match-up against league champion Snohomish. The Panthers jumped on the Mavericks early, racing out to a 17-3 lead after the first quarter, and went on to win 42-26. There would be no comeback this time for Meadowdale, which was also outscored 13-5 in the third quarter. Morrison led the Mavericks with 13 points.

The Mavericks’ season came to an end with a 55-25 loss to Arlington in a loser-out game Tuesday, Feb. 13, at Arlington High School. Morrison led Meadowdale with 10 points.

“We knew at the beginning of the season this was our goal: to get to districts,” Williams said.

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