CHEHALIS - Sometimes the most subtle play can spark all the momentum a team needs to grab a win.
Unfortunately for Sehome, that game-altering play went against them.
In a tight contest featuring eight lead changes, a fourth-quarter pump fake beyond the 3-point arc by Mark Morris' Evan Troy followed by a foul from Mariners guard Evan Miksovsky and Troy's subsequent successful three free throws, turned out to be the crushing blow to Sehome's bid to advance to next week's Hardwood Classic in Yakima.
"They got three points out of the possession, and that's where it kind of swung their way," Sehome coach AJ LaBree said.
The Mariners never recovered after Troy's consecutive free throws gave the Monarchs a five-point lead with 4:47 to go, as Sehome suffered a 55-44 Class 2A state tournament regional round loss to No. 6-ranked Mark Morris on Saturday, March 1, at W.F. West High School in Chehalis.
The loss ended the season for the Mariners, who entered regionals as District 1/2's No. 4 seed. Sehome finished 17-8 overall.
Neither team led by more than four points previous to Troy's free throws, with the exception of Sehome's 6-0 lead to open the game.
Mark Morris guard Cameron Mosier converted a hopeful 3-point attempt as the shot-clock buzzer sounded two possessions later to give the Monarchs a 47-39 lead with 3:03 left, and the Mariners' offense struggled to score, recording only seven fourth-quarter points.
"They made some incredible plays, shot clock running down and the kid threw up a shot," said Miksovsky, who led the Mariners with 12 points before fouling out with 1:34 to play. "That was a big shot. They just made more plays down the stretch. That just turned out to be the factor in the game."
Leif Anderson, Sehome's leading scorer, finished with 10 points on three 3s and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Mariners forward Elijah Andrushenko scored eight.
Mark Morris forward Grant Gibb scored a game-high 18 points, and Mosier added 13.
The Mariners hung with the District 4 champions most of the game, and they did much of it without their lone senior, Miksovsky, who picked up his third foul with 5:00 left in the second quarter. Miksovsky didn't enter again until 4:16 remained in the third.
Sehome led 13-12 at the end of the first quarter following an Anderson 3 and a Tanner Clark layup just before the period's end.
Mark Morris opened the second quarter on a 5-0 run to take a 17-13 lead - the Monarchs' largest of the game until Troy's fourth-quarter free throws - but Miksovsky answered with a 3-pointer. Neither team led by more than three the rest of the half, as both clubs went into halftime tied at 26.
LaBree entered the game concerned about Sehome's ability to rebound with Mark Morris, which touts four players 6-foot-5 or taller. But the Mariners owned a 23-20 rebounding edge by game's end.
However, it was Mark Morris' 3-point shooting that hurt the Mariners through the first two quarters. The Monarchs made five of their eight triples in the first half. Sehome finished with seven 3s.
The Mariners took a 37-36 advantage heading into the fourth quarter thanks to nine combined points from Miksovsky and Anderson, but trailing 41-39 with 4:47 to go, Mark Morris captured the game's momentum for good with Troy's three free throws.
"Mark Morris is a well-disciplined team and well coached," LaBree said. "Once they got a little bit of a lead, they were able to take care of the ball. We came out scrambling, trying to get turnovers, and we couldn't get them."
The Monarchs, who finished 15 of 20 from the free-throw line, made their free throws down the stretch.
"I couldn't have been more proud of the effort of those kids," said LaBree of his club. "We always believed we could make the playoffs, and then we wanted to see how far we could go. ... Looking back at this year, I think it is a success. It's a special group."
This season marked the first time Sehome has qualified for the state tournament since the Mariners placed fifth at state during the 2007-08 campaign.
The loss also marked an end to Miksovsky's brilliant career in green and yellow.
"I've been head coach at Sehome for seven years and with the program for 10 now, and I've never seen a guy like Evan," LaBree said. "He is special. He is a once in a lifetime player for a coach to have."
Miksovsky said he it was an honor for him to close his career with this year's Mariners.
"I couldn't ask for a better team to end it with," he said. "They came in with not much varsity experience at all, but they worked their butts off every day in the gym."
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County updates.
MARK MORRIS 55, SEHOME 44
Sehome 13 13 11 7 - 44
Mark Morris 12 14 10 19 - 55
Sehome: Evan Miksovsky 12, Langston Engle 0, Marcus Montag 0, Elijah Andrushenko 8, Sam Carroll 0, Leif Anderson 10, Duncan James 6, Tanner Clark 8, Leighton Kingma 0. Team totals: 18-51 1-2 44.
Mark Morris: Hayden Tapani 9, Cameron Mosier 13, Evan Troy 8, Grant Gibb 18, Keigan Baker 5, Jared Roffler 0, Jared Bartleson 2, Geordi Morrow 0. Team totals: 16-39 15-20 55.
3-ptg: Sehome 7 (Anderson 3), Mark Morris 8 (Mosier 3). Rebounds: Sehome 23 (Anderson 6), Mark Morris 20 (Gibb 7). Assists: Sehome 10 (Miksovsky 3), Mark Morris 4 (Mosier 2). Fouls: Sehome 17 (Miksovsky/Andrushenko), Mark Morris 10. Turnovers: Sehome 7, Mark Morris 9.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.