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Lakewood boys basketball needs 2 straight wins for state tournament berth
BELLINGHAM — As a microcosm of this season, it took the Cougar boys half of the game to wake up — with mixed results.
Lakewood was able to overcome its first-half grogginess against Sehome in a 50-43 win in a winner-to-district game Feb. 23, but once at districts the story changed.
Top-ranked 2A Squalicum took advantage of Lakewood’s first half jitters to the tune of a 52-18 halftime lead.
“They played pretty fast and that kind of shocked us,” said Cougars coach Matt Hart. “That’s the reason why they are No. 1 — they got four kids who can fill it in from three.”
The Storm hit 11 3-pointers in the 91-45 Cougar loss Feb. 26. The Cougar’s now have to win two straight games to earn a state tournament berth, starting with a March 2 game against Cedarcrest.
Lakewood was led by senior Joseph Hawkins’ 12 points, while four Squalicum players scored in double digits, including Caleb Thompson, who had a game-high 19.
Earlier in the week, Lakewood ground out a win against Sehome, overcoming a height advantage.
“Those north schools always are big,” Hart said. “We talked about rebounding and that kind of hurt us in the first half. We did a better job boxing out after that.”
Trying to keep an up-tempo pace, the Cougars divvied up their touches based on who had the best shot in the second half, which resulted in an all-around effort. Senior guard Cameron Fry led six Cougars that scored at least five points with a game-high 13 and three steals.
“We made the extra pass tonight,” Hart said. “We ran our stuff and those looks fell in.”
Lakewood retook the lead in the third quarter in the middle of an 11-2 run to make the score 33-29. With Sehome rallying to save its season, Fry and fellow senior Shanan Bird combined for a trio timely 3-pointers to keep the Mariners at arms length during the final three minutes.