Yes, players wore masks, the visiting crowd was limited to barely two dozen, and the home team had “seniors night” on opening night … because you never know how this crazy, COVID season is going to go.
But if the Meridian-Mount Baker boys basketball game Monday night, May 17, is any indication, it is going to be one wild and exciting season.
“It was awesome,” said senior Trey Naidu after helping the Trojans open with a thrilling 79-78 victory over the visiting Mounties. “We are just grateful to be playing. And to come out and play with my friends … it was fun.”
It was definitely fun for Meridian in the first half, when the Trojans used their pressing defense and depth to take a commanding 44-23 lead at intermission. Nine different Trojans scored with sophomore Hunter Jones, playing in his first varsity game, and Naidu leading the way with 10 points each.
The Mounties, meanwhile, did not look like the team that dominated Nooksack Valley on Saturday in their opener, committing costly turnovers and missing easy shots in the first half.
“All I asked them at halftime was, ‘How are you going to respond?’” said Mount Baker coach Ben Zakheim. “When we hit that adversity (in the first half), they supported each other. It’s a testament to them. They did everything we asked them to do.”
Mount Baker cut the margin to nine to start the fourth quarter. And then the fireworks really started.
Braedan Hart hit a 3-pointer a minute into the period to cut the margin to five. But Meridian, behind Wes Kurz’s 12 fourth-quarter points, got the lead back up to double digits with two minutes remaining, and it looked like the Trojans would coast to victory.
But the Mounties weren’t done. Mason Jacoby hit three 3-pointers to make it 79-75 with 11 seconds left. A Meridian turnover gave the Mounties another chance and when Hart banked in a desperation 3-pointer it was suddenly 79-78. And that’s the way it ended.
“It was a fun game,” said Meridian coach Shane Stacy. “To do what we did to them in the first half … our energy was great. But we have so much inexperience on the varsity level. And they caught fire.”
The hottest Mountie was Hart, who had a game-high 30 points and eight 3-pointers, which tied the school’s single-game record. The senior guard had half of Mount Baker 12 second-half 3-pointers, and the Mounties tossed in eight 3s in the final period while scoring 30 points.
“It was pretty fun,” said Hart. “I didn’t expect there would be this many points. But we’re just grateful to be playing.”
Jacoby finished with 15 points for the Mounties as did fellow junior Aidan Corning.
Naidu, one of only four Trojans with much varsity experience, led Meridian with 23 points. Kurz finished with 18 points and Jones added 13.
Meridian’s next action is Tuesday in a non-league game at South Whidbey. Mount Baker hosts Lynden Christian on Wednesday.
Northwest 1B League
|Cedar Park Christian (Lynnwood)|
Jim Carberry is a former Bellingham Herald sports editor and author of several books on Whatcom County prep basketball. Follow him on Twitter @whatcomhoops and visit the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page.