Medical Lake upsets Chewelah to claim No. 1 seed in 1A play
Proof of the huge upset Monday night where Medical Lake nabbed the No. 1 seed from the NEA in this weekend’s Bi-Districts.
By PAUL DELANEY
The rationale may be in question but the Medical Lake boys’ basketball team will certainly take the result.
That result was the Cardinals’ 51-48 upset victory over the Chewelah Cougars on the road Monday. The win not only gave Medical Lake the No. 1 seed in this weekend’s bi-district tournament at West Valley in Spokane but also snapped Chewelah’s 15-game winning streak.
Why the top two finishers in the regular season in the Northeast A League had to meet in the first place was a head scratcher, considering they had just played six days prior. But Cardinals’ head coach Arnold Brown tried to come up with an explanation.
“A lot of times they would just have one and two sitting there not playing,” Brown said. Being idle was not an issue for Medical Lake which had to play a playoff last Saturday at Riverside versus Lakeside to determine the league’s No. 2, a game ML won 49-35.
Monday at Jenkins High gym the Cardinals raced out to a big lead and then had to hold on. Behind the game-high 22 points from senior Adam Paulson, a total that included six 3-point baskets, Medical Lake held a 29-19 lead at halftime and 43-31 after three.
The Cougars, with Derek Smith’s 14 points leading the way, outscored the Cardinals 17-8 in the last quarter. It was a game that was beginning to look like a Jan. 25 60-57 loss at Lakeside when Brown called a late timeout. He reminded his players of how they let a lead slip away at Lakeside and the bleeding stopped.
“The guys pulled it together and obviously Austin (Garza) and Adam (Paulson) were incredible last night,” Brown said. Both had just been named to the All-NEA team, Garza on the first and Paulson second. Garza scored 14 and Don Harvey-Mitchell 10.
Each guy bought into what we were trying to do, Brown said. “We shot well, our defense played well, everybody contributed in their own way.”
Brown’s teams identity is in their defense he said. “Our focus is always defense, that’s one thing you have to have every night.”
“So last night (Monday) against a high potency offense like they had, especially at their place, it took everything that we had,” Brown said.
The adage in football is that defense wins championships, and while that isn’t necessarily so in basketball, “(Playing good defense) gives you the best chance,” Brown said.
In Chewelah, it was critical parts of offense that clicked just in time. “Adam makes six 3s, Corey Wagner comes off the bench and hits five straight points,” Brown said.
After falling to Chewelah big, 57-38 in their NEA finale last Tuesday night, Medical Lake was forced to play off against Lakeside last Saturday to break a second place tie.
The Cardinals broke away from a 23-19 halftime lead outscoring the Eagles by 10 in the second half. Seth Hansen scored 12 points to lead his team while Tellas Johnson and Paulson each kicked in 11. Ryan Quigley also had 11.
And in the first Medical Lake-Chewelah battle of the week the Cougars erased a 12-9 Cardinals’ edge after the first quarter with a 21-8 edge in the second and led by 10 at the break and kept the pedal down the rest of the way. Brandon Smith connected for 20 while Derek Smith added 17. Garza and Jaelon Stith each had nine for Medical Lake.
So after this sprint to the finish in NEA play, the Cardinals open bi-districts against an as yet undetermined for from the Caribou Trail League, 8:30 p.m. nightcap in Millwood.
Okanogan (13-1 CTL, 19-1 all games), whom the Cardinals lost to earlier in the non-league season comes in as the CTL’s No. 1 with Chelan (11-3, 14-5) and Cashmere (11-3, 14-6) locked in a battle for second with each having played this past Tuesday.
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.