Cards will build on young foundation after playoff loss
Medical Lake's Tellas Johnson (20) battles for a rebound in last Tuesday's District 7 playoff game in Newport while Dominic Harvey-Mitchell (33) waits to help. The Cardinals could not maintain the early pressure and fell 65-61 in a loser-out game. Johnson scored 18 points and is a player who will be counted on in the future.
Unfortunately the fire didn't last for Medical Lake's boys last Tuesday in their opening-round, loser out District 7 playoff game at Newport.
After opening the game on a roll, the Cardinals missed a possible game-tying layup in the final seconds of a 65-61 loss to the Grizzlies, finishing the season 7-14, dropping four of their final five games.
"We started off good," Medical Lake head coach Arnold Brown said. "In that first quarter we were playing with such great emotion, I don't know we thought it was the end of the game or something."
The Cardinals were shot out of a cannon it seemed and led 10-1 at one point. "But it easily could have been 15, 16, 17-1, Brown said. "We missed some layups in there, too, some point-blank layups where we could have put it out of hand." Medical Lake led 17-11 after the first quarter and were tied 30-30 at the half.
The tempo seemed to change when Medical Lake got into foul trouble later in the first quarter.
Three Cardinals had two or more fouls in the first quarter, Brown said.
"Then (Jeron) Konkright got hot, he's just one of those players you don't want to get going," Brown said of the Northeast A League's regular season MVP who lit things up for 32 points. "Young teams don't understand you can't let a good player like that get going, it's hard for everybody to stop him."
Having 27 turnovers hurt. "A lot of it wasn't what they were doing," Brown said. "The worst ones are the unforced ones."
Medical Lake got an impressive performance in the finale from Tellas Johnson and Jordan Rohweder who each tossed in 18 points. Cory Wagner added 16.
While the loss was disappointing, Brown said it might serve as positive purpose, too. "Finally, finally, it hurt (to lose)," Brown said. "This was actually the first game that truly, actually hurt them, where they wished they had another game."
All of the team should return, but it won't be until November when they meet again. That does not include summer ball, the next time they can legally get together as a team with coaches. "From now at the end of the season until June there is no interaction allowed with coaches," Brown said.
He also suggested they look into possibly trying out for AAU teams. "That's an individual thing where they have to go out and get stronger, through other sports or just on their own."
"All of our guys will be back, I don't see anyone leaving," Brown said. That includes First Team All-NEA selection, junior, Tellas Johnson, who was playing in his first full season after joining the team in early 2013.
Wagner, Rohweder, Jaelon Stith and Isiah Farmen, all sophomores, had notable breakout games, but developing consistency will be the important part. Dom Harvey-Mitchell hopes to get his 6-foot, 5-inch frame into more minutes as a junior. Cooper James had some outstanding nights with his 3-point shooting.
The NEA grows by two with the addition of Colville and Deer Park who drop down to 1A from the Great Northern League. "It isn't going to get any easier," Brown said.
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.