A fast start was just what the Medical Lake boy’s basketball team needed in their final home game, a 67-49 win over Chewelah.
But it was the finish that was important to Cardinals’ head coach Arnold Brown, too.
The win concluded the Cardinals’ (5-7 Northeast A, 7-13 overall) regular season and earned them a first-round loser-out playoff game on the road this past Tuesday at Newport (6-6, 10-10).
With junior Tellas Johnson pumping in 19 points and sophomore Cooper James 15, the Cardinals raced out of the gate, took a 22-10 lead after the opening quarter and 35-23 at the half. Jaelon Stith added 10 more. Johnson and James combined for a 9-of-15 night from 3-point range. Chewelah’s Mason Miller also scored 19 to lead the Cougars (2-10, 5-15) who earned the NEA’s final playoff spot.
“They were a good team and didn’t back down,” Brown said of Chewelah. “They cut it to (a) five or six (point deficit) in the middle of the third.” Medical Lake answered, stopped the surge and secured the win on Senior Night for a team with no active seniors.
“It’s always nice to win that list home game even though we didn’t have any seniors we played it for Steven,” Brown said, referring to injured Steven Velazquez whose football injury sidelined him for the year. “I think it was kind of emotional for our guys to play hard for him.”
“Our goal it to try to complete a game, play all four quarters,” Brown said. “We did that”
Brown singled out his team’s shot selection as a key. “I think we shot about 50-something percent so that’s always nice.”
Newport comes into the game as winners of three of its previous four games. ML’s win snapped a three-game losing streak. The Grizzlies feature NEA MVP Jeron Konkright.
The teams spit the regular season games, the Cards winning 61-55, Jan. 10 while the Grizzlies earned a 66-61 win Jan. 28 at home where Konkright scored 29. He had 27 in the earlier loss.
“We’ve got to deal with that the best we can and hopefully we’ll be on all cylinders,” Brown said in reference to Konkright. “That’s why we play 20 games and that rough preseason; we’ll see how that pays off for us.”
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.