MOUNTLAKE TERRACE - After fracturing his collarbone and suffering an AC joint separation in his shoulder early in the Mount Baker football team's first-round game of the Class 1A state playoffs, Zan Roman considered himself pretty much a playoff rookie.
Sure, he played in a district football playoff loss to Archbishop Murphy as a junior, but that was his only real playoff experience until the Mountaineers started their run through the Class 1A Northwest District Boys' Basketball Tournament last week.
"The atmosphere is different," Roman said. "The crowd is more intense, and your teammates are looking to you and have bigger expectations for you."
Roman lived up to those expectations on Saturday, Feb. 9, during the third-place game of the district tournament, as he recorded his first career double-double to lead the Mountaineers to a 66-62 victory over Blaine at Mountlake Terrace. Roman scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, fitting in nicely with the 22 points and eight rebounds teammate Reuben Murashov scored.
Both teams move on to next week's 1A tri-district tournament, but by winning Saturday, Mount Baker (9-15) receives the district's No. 3 seed into the tournament, while Blaine (6-18) gets the No. 4. That means the Borderites will have to travel to face the District 3 No. 4 seed on Tuesday, Feb. 12. The Mountaineers, meanwhile, will get to wait until Thursday, Feb. 14 to face the winner of that game in a 4:30 p.m. game at Mountlake Terrace and will need to win only two games to advance to the regional round of the state tournament.
Should Blaine win on Tuesday, it would set up the fifth meeting between the two schools and the third in 10 days.
With Saturday's win, Mount Baker has claimed the first four, but the last three have come by a total of seven points.
The key Saturday was the Mountaineers' aggressiveness on the offensive boards.
Led by Roman, Mount Baker grabbed 16 offensive rebounds and turned them into 19 second-chance points.
"I think we made rebounding a priority," Mount Baker coach Rob Gray said. "I think the guys saw Ty Munsell in there working hard and realized we didn't need to let one guy do all the work. They started attacking the boards more, and that made a big difference."
Getting the 6-foot-3, long-armed body of Roman back on the court midway through the season didn't hurt, either, Gray said.
And on Saturday, he, Murashov or one of their teammates seemed to get to nearly every errant Mount Baker shot to give the Mountaineers another shot to score, as Blaine struggled to rebound out of its 2-3 zone.
"I feel like guys were just crashing the boards and doing what we were supposed to do," Roman said. "We would find open lanes and get to the ball."
That sort of effort helped Mount Baker open up a double-digit lead in the third quarter, but Blaine battled back and took the lead on a Gabe Trump 3-pointer with 4:22 to play off an assist from Josiah Westbrook.
The teams traded the lead for the next 21/2 minutes before Munsell hit a running jumper in the lane with 2:02 to play to put the Mountaineers ahead for good at 63-61.
Trump hit one of two free throws to cut it to a one-point game with 1:19 to play, but Dalton Munsell drained a jumper on Mount Baker's next possession to stretch the lead to 65-62.
Blaine ended up missing its final three field goal attempts, and Ty Munsell made the first of two free throws with 6.9 seconds to play and missed the second, but Roman, fittingly, grabbed the offensive board.
Trump finished with 26 points and six rebounds, giving him 106 points in Blaine's four district playoff games. He was joined in double figures by Josiah Westbrook, who saw foul trouble limit him to 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals less than 24 hours after he scored 30 in a win at Meridian. Zach Rector and Tas Scanlan each scored 10 points and added eight and six rebounds, respectively, for the Borderites.
Sophomore Colton Ranson joined Murashov and Roman in double figures for Mount Baker with 13 points, including two crucial 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, while Andrew Zender set a team record by taking four charges, breaking the old mark of three set by Isaac Gilmore earlier in the season.
"This was a good win for us, and I felt we had a lot of guys contribute," Gray said.
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
MOUNT BAKER 66, BLAINE 62
Blaine 8 21 14 19 - 62
Mount Baker 11 24 16 15 - 66
Blaine: Josiah Westbrook 14, Jericho Probadora 2, Cole Muder 0, Ivan Sanchez 0, Gabe Trump 26, Tas Scanlan 10, Ryan Wallen 0, Zach Rector 10, Quame Finley 0. Team totals: 15-45 18-24 62.
Mount Baker: Isaac Gilmore 0, Reuben Murashov 22, Zan Roman 16, Ty Munsell 3, Seth Bass 0, Harrison Whitmyre 8, Conner Brandland 0, Colton Ranson 13, Dalton Munsell 4, Andrew Zender 0. Team totals: 21-61 17-24 66.
3-ptg: Blaine 6 (Trump 4), Mount Baker 6 (Ranson 3). Rebounds: Blaine 33 (Rector 8), Mount Baker 38 (Roman 11). Assists: Blaine 7 (Westbrook 4), Mount Baker 9 (Murashov 2, Roman 2). Fouls: Blaine 20 (Westbrook fouled out), Mount Baker 25. Turnovers: Blaine 23, Mount Baker 17.