Meadowdale looking to move up in the standings | Boys basketball

Mavs defeat Panthers to even league record
By David Pan | Jan 11, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan Meadowdale’s Okeoma Okoro looks to pass the ball during a Wesco 3A game against Shorecrest Tuesday, Jan. 2, at Shorecrest High School.

After a tough loss to league leader Shorecrest, Meadowdale used a balanced offensive attack and a stifling defense to knock off Snohomish.

Three Mavericks scored in double figures to lead the Mavericks to a 64-44 victory over the Panthers in a Wesco 3A boys basketball game Friday, Jan. 5, at Snohomish High School.

Seniors Daniel Barhoum and Justin Chambers each scored 18 points and senior Okeoma Okoro produced his best offensive performance of the season with 11 points.

The emergence of Okoro could be a big boost for the Mavericks, as they head into the heart of their league schedule.

“He’s so strong and physical,” Meadowdale coach Roger O’Neill said of his 6-foot-5 center. “When he gets rolling, it’s another dimension we can throw at people.”

In addition to spreading out the points, the Mavericks largely contained Snohomish’s Colton Smith and Cameron Bonorden, who O’Neill noted were responsible for about 60 percent of the Panthers’ points.

“We wanted to make someone else beat us,” he said.

Smith scored 14 points and Bonorden had 8 points. The Panthers were led by Luis Balcarcel, who finished with 17 points.

Meadowdale gave seniors Colton Walsh and Will Schafer, along with senior Tommy Dimmock, most of the responsibilities in guarding Smith and Bonorden.

“You never know how that’s going to work to take them out of their rhythm,” O’Neill said. “It worked better than I could have hoped for. We were able to maintain rebounding integrity and go push out on the fast break.”

The Mavericks (2-2 in the league. 6-6 overall) were coming off a 68-53 loss to Shorecrest (5-0, 10-2) on Tuesday, Jan. 2, at Shorecrest High School. The game was closer than the final score indicated.

Meadowdale trailed 30-24 at halftime and the Mavericks cut the deficit to 2 points in the third quarter. The Scots then grabbed three straight offensive rebounds and Meadowdale put up some bad shots. Shorecrest followed with three 3-point shots.

“It went from 4 points to a 15-point game really fast,” O’Neill said. “Against a team like that, you can’t have those stretches. Hopefully, we get the chance to play them against in the district tournament. We needed a full 32-minute effort. We weren’t there yet. I’m confident we’ll get there if we’re able to play them again.”

Shorecrest 6-foot-9 senior Philip Pepple scored a game-high 30 points. Senior Chris Lee added 16 points and junior Antonio Stillwell had 11 points.

“Every year he’s gotten more skilled,” O’Neill said of Pepple. “He’s definitely a match-up problem for everyone. … He’s so skilled and dominant that you pick your poison with him. We’re OK with letting him get certain shots. He just made them all.”

Chambers led the Mavericks with 20 points and was the only Meadowdale player in double figures.

The Mavericks face district rival Mountlake Terrace at 7:15 p.m., Friday, Jan. 12, at Mountlake Terrace High School. The Hawks are led by senior Khyree Armstead, a versatile forward, who O’Neill said probably is the best defensive player in the league.

“He does so much,” O’Neill said. “The problem is they are littered with shooters. They love to the 3s. … Down the stretch, it’s going to be whoever takes care of the ball and rebounds.”

Meadowdale with its 2-2 league record sits in the middle of the Wesco 3A standings. After Friday’s contest with the Hawks, the Mavericks play Lynnwood (2-3, 6-7) and Marysville-Getchell (1-4, 5-8) next week and then take on Everett (2-3, 5-8) and Edmonds-Woodway (2-3, 7-6) the following week. All four of those teams are right on Meadowdale’s heels in the standings.

“We have the opportunity in the next two or three weeks to separate ourselves from the pack and get into that upper tier of teams,” O’Neill said. “That’s the goal – to host a first round district game. … We’re playing better basketball. We just need to keep on getting better.”

A player who definitely can help Meadowdale achieve that goal is senior forward Mustapha Sonko, who O’Neill said is close to being healthy and able to get back on the court. Sonko, a 6-6 forward/guard, suffered a serious ankle injury in practice that has sidelined him for the entire season.

“Mustapha is getting close to playing,” O’Neill said. “He’s rehabbing. He’s been practicing with limited reps. He’s looks good.”

Meadowdale’s eight seniors are working hard to make their final season a success.

“I’m pretty pleased with the direction we’re heading,” O’Neill said. “Our guys are fully committed. We’re having great practices. We’re starting to see some cool things on the court.”

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