LYNDEN - Meridian's fast-rising junior Alex Martin is drawing more than his share of attention.
If he had not, chances are the Trojans would have been a bit more competitive in their 66-49 loss to Cashmere on Saturday, Dec. 28, in Lynden Christian's Cloud 9 Sports Christmas Classic.
"Wow, can he ever play," said Cashmere coach Levi Heyen of Martin, who finished with 18 points against the Class 1A State Tournament hopeful Bulldogs (4-3). "I watched him yesterday and he made some unbelievable shots with people in his face" (with 32 points, including seven 3-pointers, in Meridian's 75-68 loss to Oregon power De La Salle).
Heyen said he was taking no chances that Martin would hit anywhere near 32 against his quick club.
"We made sure to put our best defenders on him at all times," the coach said. "That kid can shoot outside and get to the line. You just have to respect him and keep a hand in his face."
In fact, Martin twice made 4-point plays - once in the first quarter and again in the third - with a free throw when he was fouled while making a 3-pointer.
The 6-foot-2 Martin took only 11 shots from the field and made five while refusing to force any shots.
"I don't think Alex ever forces anything," said Meridian coach Shane Stacy. "His shot selection stays within the bounds of what we're trying to do."
Stacy blamed himself for Cashmere's 49-27 lead midway through the third quarter, even though the Trojans (3-4) looked as though they could be a team to be reckoned with in the Northwest Conference.
"I don't think we were ready to play today," he said. "I did not have our guys ready (for Cashmere's defensive intensity) ... Cashmere is one of the finest offensive rebounding teams I've ever seen."
Martin agreed with his coach.
This (loss) really showed where we need to be," Martin said. "We need more intensity. We need to bring it (in games and practices) every day."
All-state senior guard Dylan Boyd, a 5-foot-10 whippet, shot 7 for 10, with all but one attempt in the first half, and finished with 21 points, all before intermission. Casey Ruether, Hunter Read and 6-6 Conner Badgley combined for 31 points, including 18 in the second half.
Martin scored 12 of his 18 in the second half as the Trojans showed spunk, if not accuracy or rebounding muscle, throughout.
Three Meridian juniors - 6-3 post Kyle Young and reserves Brady Moore and Tanner Tutterrow - continued to show flashes of offensive potential. Young muscled three consecutive hoops in the second quarter, while Moore hit a pair of 3s in the first half and Tutterrow connected twice in 3s in the final minutes.
The Trojans finished 15 for 45 from the field and did not shoot better than 40 percent in any quarter.
Cashmere consists mostly of the football players who helped eliminate Meridian from the state playoffs. The Bulldogs were narrowly ousted in the football semifinals, so they're that much hungrier in basketball.
CASHMERE 66, MERIDIAN 49 Cashmere 20 19 15 12 -- 66 Meridian 11 13 14 11 -- 49 Cashmere: Dylan Boyd 21, Casey Ruether 10, Hunter Read 11, Conner Badgley 10, Mason Elliott 7, Parker Landdeck 4, Cooper Green 3, Jesse Jaspers 0, Adan Farias 0, Jacob Monroe 0. Team totals: 23-42 16-28 66. Meridian: Alex Martin 18, Jacob Plagerman 4, Blake Briones 4, Sam Chambers 3, Kyle Young 6, Brady Moore 6, Tanner Tutterrow 6, Nick Rautenberg 2, Cody Bachman 0, Derek Campfield 0, Devin Holmes 0. Team totals: 15-45 12-19 49. 3ptg: Cashmere 4 (Boyd 3); Meridian 7 (Martin 2, Moore 2, Tutterrow 2). Rebounds: Cashmere 32 (Badgley 8); Meridian 22 (Young 5). Assists: Cashmere 12 (Boyd 4); Meridian 6 (Plagerman 2, Chambers 2. Fouls: Cashmere 16 (Boyd fouled out); Meridian 22 (Young fouled out).