Mt. Vernon Upsets Enumclaw
TACOMA - Mac Fraser said after his Mount Vernon Bulldogs had earned a berth in the state Class AA boys' basketball semifinals that his team had yet to play its best game.
They saved it for last night. ``And we've got more ahead of us,'' he added.
Behind a strong scoring effort from Chis Gamble and some electric play by 6-foot-7 point guard Tim Caviezel, the Bulldogs knocked off previously unbeaten and top-ranked Enumclaw in the semifinals last night in the Tacoma Dome, 79-72.
Mount Vernon (23-3) will play Battle Ground (23-2) tonight at 8 p.m. to determine the state title. That game will pit the Southwest District champion against the Northwest District champion.
Enumclaw, which spent most of the season as the No. 1-ranked team in the state, will play Sehome to determine third and sixth places.
``The kids are pretty disappointed,'' Enumclaw Coach Bill Hawk said. ``They set their sights all season long on winning the state title. It's going to take a little time to go back and regroup.''
Mount Vernon had not played well, by Fraser's standards, since it clinched a berth in the state tournament against Lynnwood two weeks ago. The Bulldogs were beaten soundly by Sehome, a team they had beaten twice during the regular season, in the Northwest District championship game. The team was less than spectacular in wins over Cleveland and Eastmont en route to the semifinals.
Mount Vernon had its best shooting night of the tournament, hitting 25 of 44 (57 percent) field goal attempts and converting 26 of 34 (76 percent) free throw tries.
Gamble got Mount Vernon cooking early in the game, scoring the Bulldogs' first six points and collecting 13 of his 24 points by the half. Caviezel said the fast start was the key to the entire game for Mount Vernon.
``We started awesome,'' he said. ``That had been our weakness in the first two games, we started so slow.''
At the final buzzer, some members of the Mount Vernon rooting section tried to storm the playing floor to mob their teammates, but were stopped by Dome security and there were some blows exchanged.
Caviezel, who had his best shooting night of the tournament ith 25 points, said the team met twice after its semifinal win over Eastmont Thursday night to discuss the game with the Hornets.
``We just talked about the fact that we felt we could play with them,'' he said. ``We didn't want to be intimidated.''
Hawk said it was his Hornets who might have been a little intimidated.
``I think we might have been intimidated by the height they have,'' he said, looking at Mount Vernon's lineup that included Caviezel and Mark Hendrickson, both at 6-7, and Matt Wollberg at 6-8. ``We just weren't taking the kinds of shots that we normally like to take.
``And we sent them to the line a little too often.''
Enumclaw sent the Bulldogs to the free throw line nine straight times to start the fourth quarter - a stretch that saw Mount Vernon convert 13 of 18 shots.
Tournament attendance for both Friday's session and three-day totals were both records. Friday there was a paid attendance of 11,961. The three-day total was 34,532.
Battle Ground 64
-- The three-point shot, so long the friend of Sehome, departed last night, leaving the Mariners to finish their semifinal game alone.
Conversely, Battle Ground rattled off three three-point shots of its own to earn a the victory and a berth in tonight's title game.
A long-range bomb from the Mariners' 6-foot-5 sharpshooter, Jon Kinloch, gave Sehome a 50-44 lead just seconds into fourth quarter.
Then, as a curtain call, it reappeared for a Jeff Ragsdale bomb four minutes later.
``We had to have things work out just right to be able to beat them,'' Sehome Coach Steve Chronister said. ``They went their way at the end.''
The Tigers, semifinalists in last year's Class AAA tournament, were able to shift their defense in the closing quarter, cutting off the vital three-point shot that had carried Sehome into its fourth-quarter lead. By making it more difficult to get the ball outside, Battle Ground found a way to ban the bomb.
``As long as we get a hand in their face, I'm not going to be worried about the way we defend the three-pointer,'' Battle Ground Coach Butch Blue said. ``We're not going to block 'em all and they're not going to make 'em all.
``(Sehome) set some tough single screens and tough double screens, things that make it awfully hard to defend that (three-point) shot.''
Sehome shattered the tournament record for three-point attempts. The Mariners tossed up 30 shots from outside the 23-foot arc, converting on 10, giving them 68 attempts for the tournament - 13 more than the record with one game left to play.
Battle Ground was more efficient from outside, hitting 6 of 14 shots, enough to make Sehome conscious of that shot, while the Tigers two big men, 6-foot-9 center Mike Brotherton and 6-8 forward Scott Tharp, were able to work well inside, teamming for 26 points and 15 rebounds.
``We knew we could shoot real well from the outside,'' Chronister said. ``We knew they could play well inside or outside and we had to take one of those two away. They did both.''
Sehome took a 20-17 lead after one quarter by riding three three-point shots by Ragsdale and two by Todd Gustafson.
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