TACOMA – They played like there was no way they were going to lose.
“It was do or die. They were playing for their lives,” Marysville-Pilchuck boys basketball coach Bary Gould said Friday after his team beat Ingraham 80-68 at the state 3A tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
It was a total team effort with Cameron Stordahl leading the way with 20 points, RaeQuan Battle with 19, and Luke Dobler and Aaron Kalab scored 16 apiece.
Especially impressive was the Tomahawks outrebounded the much-taller Rams 45-35. As a result, M-P turned on its fastbreak, especially in the third period when the Tommies started to pull away. Battle and Kalab grabbed 10 rebounds each, while Dobler had 8 and Stordahl 7.
Another key to the win, Gould said, was Battle’s trust in his teammate.
“He’s such a special player,” Gould said of Battle, who will be playing for the University of Washington next year. “He was able to trust his teammates.”
Another key throughout the game was “we were able to exploit some matchups.”
Specifically, whenever Stordahl or Kalab had Ram standout junior Mitchell Saxon guard them, they drove past him to the bucket. They didn’t often score because at 6-foot-10 Saxon either blocked or disrupted their shots. But Battle was there seven times for rebounds, sometimes for easy follow-ups.
Saxon scored 9 of his 20 points in the first quarter to give the Rams a 19-18 lead. Battle scored eight of his own with two steals that ended in dunks among them. Stordahl had a 3 beyond the arc and Kalab added three more with a bucket and free throw.
Battle assisted on buckets by Stordahl and Dobler, along with Dobler hitting a 3 in the second quarter. But the highlight of the game, and possibly the tournament, was when Battle took a pass out on the wing, took one dribble, then soared in for a flush as M-P led 36-31 at halftime.
Stordahl and Kalab took over in the third with Stordahl hitting two 3’s and Kalab hitting from the baseline, connecting on a 3, and scoring on two fastbreaks, one at the buzzer to make it 57-45.
To start the fourth, Stordahl passed inside to Ethan Jackson then drove to the hoop for two more, but then the Rams went on a 6-0 run. Jackson hit Stordahl with an alley oop pass to end the drought then Alec Jones-Smith assisted to Battle on a fastbreak. Battle’s windmill stuff with 1:27 left was the dagger, although Dobler connected on a number of free throws to end the game. Just a few weeks before, Ingraham knocked off top-seeded Eastside Catholic, one of their only two losses on the year before the state tournament. Eastside Catholic ended up third, beating Rainier Beach, which finished fifth.