TACOMA – When is a 32-point lead barely enough?
Case in point was the Shadle Park boys basketball team’s State 3A tournament opener Wednesday. The Highlanders were cruising along late in the third quarter, leading 59-27. In a matter of 9 minutes, that lead had dwindled to six.
Shadle coach Tim Gaebe sent his starters back in with 3:33 remaining and they eventually stopped Renton’s rally as the Highlanders triumphed 72-62 at the Tacoma Dome.
“Even when I pulled them (the starters) out, I told them to be ready to go back in,” Gaebe said. “Obviously, I pulled them too soon as it turned out. The important thing is we got the win.”
North Central, meanwhile, fell victim to too many mistakes as Union pulled away late 63-54.
Shadle Park 72, Renton 62: The Highlanders (21-4) couldn’t have drawn up a better start to the game or second half.
The Highlanders zipped to a 14-2 lead, eventually ending the first quarter up 26-12. Shadle extended it to 35-15 when senior guard Robby Douglas hit a 3-pointer with 5:08 to go before halftime.
Then the Highlanders buried the Indians to open the third quarter, making seven of their first eight shots. A jumper by Jared Millican put the Highlanders ahead 59-27 with 1:58 to go before the fourth quarter.
That’s when the momentum switched quickly – in part because Gaebe emptied his bench.
“I really don’t know what happened,” Douglas said. “Maybe we got a little too overconfident. I’m really not sure. We didn’t take care of the ball there when they were pressuring us.”
Douglas did like the Highlanders’ start.
“The starters did a good job of handling the press in the first half,” said Douglas, who tied sophomore forward Brett Boese with 16 points. “We made good decisions. We moved the ball really well. We were sharing the ball tremendously. We attacked their press. But the second half kind of got out of control.”
The Highlanders’ opener was a stark contrast to the 67-45 spanking they endured at the hands of eventual state champ Franklin in an opener last year.
Gaebe was tickled by his team’s play for three quarters.
“We came out and were just burying them,” Gaebe said. “Then in the fourth quarter we turned it over a lot. What these kids have to understand at this level and in this tournament is it’s going to be physical. They can’t expect to be bailed out. You have to be physical back.”
Senior guard Scott Andersen also reached double figures, finishing with 15 points. Senior guard Taylor Pettersen had a team-high eight rebounds.
Union 63, North Central 54: Indians coach Jay Webber didn’t need to look at the statistics to know what bedeviled his team.
“Just too many turnovers,” Webber said. “We’re going to have a hard time competing over here with turnovers. We’ve got to do a better job of valuing the basketball.”
NC (15-12) wasted a nice start. The Indians opened a 20-11 lead in the first quarter. But a 3-pointer by Vishal Sanghera wiped away all of that advantage as the Titans took their first lead at 25-23 with 4:11 remaining before halftime.
Union led 33-29 at intermission.
The lead didn’t reach double digits until late. Most of the second half, Union’s lead fluctuated between seven and nine points.
NC pulled within 49-44 when Lucas Evans hit a 9-foot bank shot high off the glass with 4:08 remaining. But the Titans separated themselves soon thereafter.
“We controlled tempo and they want to speed you up and speed you up,” Webber said of NC’s start.
Evans led the balanced Indians with 11 points. Zac Hill had a team-high nine rebounds.
“The kids were out there battling,” Webber said. “We just didn’t get the right shot to fall or we didn’t get the (defensive) stop. Every possession becomes big, every possession becomes magnified.”