Lake Stevens boys upped their season record to 6-0 (5-0 in Wesco North) by winning three games in four days last week. Lake next heads to the prestigious Surf ‘N Slam Tournament in San Diego where it will participate in the “big school” division with games on December 28, 29, and 30. The Vikings may play at least one nationally-ranked team there.
Lake won two of last week’s three games with relative ease, but nearly stumbled at Marysville in a game that wasn’t decided until the final buzzer. A troubling element for the Vikings is their surprisingly poor free throw shooting. Lake missed 36 of its 59 free throws in the three wins and is hitting just 50 percent at the line for the season -- one of the poorest marks in the state. This is an area where Lake is going to have to improve in, especially against top competition.
On the plus side, Shane Kaska has found his shooting eye. He scored 71 points in the three wins, including a sensational 33-point night at Oak Harbor. At Lake 65 Monroe 52 (Dec. 15) Although this was a solid win, most fans would be surprised to learn that Monroe actually outscored Lake in three of the four quarters. An overwhelming Viking 24-7 scoring margin in the second quarter made that a moot point, however.
Lake, after trailing 14-13 at the quarter break, took the lead for good when Mike Schneider scored a lay-in at the outset of the second quarter. Seconds later, Kaska swished a three, followed by a pair of Chris Finley lay-ins to make it 22-14. Zac Israel’s three just before the halftime buzzer upped the margin to 37-21. Monroe shot 52 percent in the second half to prevent a Viking runaway, but the Bearcats never got closer than the 65-52 final margin, despite Lake’s miserable shooting at the line (10 of 24 for the game). Kaska finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot. Aaron Maw’s career-high 18 points was enhanced by four assists and four steals.
Jarrett Hanson’s game included 11 points, four assists and four steals. The Vikings were out-rebounded 38-35 but committed only 12 turnovers, to 19 by the Bearcats. Lake 50 at Marysville 47 (Dec. 17) Lake may have underestimated rapidly improving Marysville, a team with negligible Varsity experience from last season. The Tomahawks kept it close throughout via sheer hustle, preventing Lake from ever settling into a comfort zone. Marysville nearly overcame a late eight-point deficit to pull off a major upset. It took a superhuman offensive rebound by Jerodan Dodge in the game’s final seconds for Lake to avoid an embarrassing loss. This time Lake’s awful free throw shooting nearly cost it a win. Lake finished five of 15 at the line, including two of nine in the fourth quarter. Marysville’s inability to hit its threes (three of 24) was a key factor in Lake’s holding on for the win. This one was close all the way. Marysville led 12-10 at the quarter break, and Lake held a 21-20 lead at halftime. Ryan Shannon and Danny Stokes each scored six points in the first half for the Toms, while Kaska had 10 points (including a pair of threes) and Finley 7 for Lake. It hit home that Lake was in a ball game when it could not shake Marysville in the third quarter, which finished with Lake ahead 35-34.
Hanson’s three and a pair of Maw lay-ins put Lake ahead 33-29 but a basket by Shannon, a steal and basket by Dylan Calahan, and a three by Shannon gave Marysville a 34-33 lead with 25 seconds left in the quarter. Kaska’s lay-in on a feed by Hanson re-took the lead for Lake at 35-34, five seconds before the quarter ended. Lake scored the first five points of the fourth quarter via a short Maw jumper and Hanson’s three, and led by 48-40 on Kaska’s lay-in with 1:38 left. But that was Lake’s last field goal of the game, as Marysville refused to die.
The Toms’ comeback started with Kyle Hinkley’s three at 1:28 and was fueled by Viking turnovers and missed free throws. Hinkley added another basket and when Calahan stole the ball and converted it into a slam dunk Lake’s lead was down to 48-47 with 23 seconds left.
With 16 seconds left Schneider made the first of a one-and-one for a 49-47 Viking lead, but he missed the second shot. Somehow, Dodge dove for the ball and secured it from a pair of Marysville players, calling time out as he fell to the floor. Marysville was forced to foul Hanson, who made the first of his one-and-one for a 50-47 lead with 12 seconds left. He missed the second, Calahan rebounded, and Marysville had a couple of good looks at threes in the final seconds but they would not drop.
Shannon led Marysville in scoring with 14, while Kaska had 18, Maw 10, and Hanson 9 for Lake. Schneider had five points, two assists, eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Maw had five points and five rebounds. Kaska had four assists and seven rebounds. Finley had six points, two assists, and a steal. Hanson had two assists, three rebounds and two steals. Dodge did not score though he contributed two blocked shots and five rebounds -- the final one of which turned out to be the game-saver for Lake. Marysville had 40 rebounds to Lake’s 37, and committed 16 turnovers to Lake’s 14. Lake 79 at Oak Harbor 58 (Dec. 18)
Kaska may have set two all-time Viking marks in this one. At one stretch the Senior forward connected on 11 straight field goals, and he finished with 13 of 16 overall (81 percent), which may be the highest field goal percentage for a player attempting at least 15 shots. (He missed his first two shots of the game). He made both of his free throws and five of his seven threes, finishing with 33 points, 22 in the first half. He was in foul trouble in the first half which limited his game playing time somewhat, though with Lake blowing out to a big lead he may not have seen many fourth quarter minutes in any case.
Kaska’s shooting barrage included an equal number from long and short range. Lake shared the wealth, with everyone playing and nine different Vikings scoring. Lake dished 27 assists on its 31 baskets, six by Hanson, five by Maw and four by Dodge. The latter led Lake in rebounding with eight, followed by Maw with six. Maw with 12 was Lake’s other double-figure scorer. Oak Harbor’s super sophomore guard Michael Washington, Jr. led his team with 18 points.
Lake, for the first time so far this season, hit the fifty percent shooting mark, making 31 of 55 (56 percent) including nine of 20 threes. Oak Harbor made 23 of 54 (43 percent) including six of 20 threes. Rebounds were even, 32 each. Oak Harbor had 16 turnovers, Lake 12.
Lake led 22-11, 45-24, and 62-37 at the quarter breaks before closing out the 79-58 win.