MERIDIAN VS. KING'S
When: 4:15 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15 Where:Mountlake Terrace High School
The Trojans are coming off a huge 43-38 win against No. 8-ranked Lynden Christian during the semifinal round of the Class 1A District Tournament. Meridian used a 16-2 fourth-quarter run coupled with a tremendous defensive effort to get the win. Guard Jacob Plagerman scored a team-best 12 points and Alex Martin chipped in 10. Meridian (12-10) is 6-4 in its last 10 games and has a chance to clinch a regional state berth with a win against No. 3-ranked King's (20-2). The Trojans beat South Whidbey 76-62 during the first round of the district tournament. Meridian is averaging 51.4 points per game and is giving up an average of 52.5 points. It entered the postseason as the third best defense in the Northwest Conference and has held opponents under 40 points five times this season. Below are the club's leading scorers:
Notable wins Sqaulicum 42-39 Ferndale 53-50 Burlington-Edison 61-51 Lynden Christian 43-38
King's Update The third-ranked Knights (20-2) easily handled Friday Harbor in their Class 1A District Tournament semifinal game, winning 66-36 to extend their winning streak to 14 games. David Barhanovich, a 6-foot-2 junior guard/forward, scored a team-high 17 points and 6-2 junior forward Calvin Kispert added 15 points. King's led Friday Harbor 15-4 at the end of the first quarter, and led 35-19 at halftime before cruising to a lopsided win. King's beat Mount Baker 62-38 in the first round of the tournament. Corey Kispert, a 6-foot-4 freshman guard/forward, led the Knights with 15 points and 10 different King's' players scored. The Knights are averaging 60.9 points per game and are giving up an average of 42.4 points. Below are some of King's scoring leaders, according to The Everett Herald's website.
Notable wins Clover Park 57-56 Seattle Academy (twice) 50-46; 42-33 Sultan 69-55
Common Opponents Meridian and King's have faced three common opponents this season: Mount Baker, Lynden and South Whidbey twice. Here are the results: Meridian South Whidbey W 59-43, W 76-62 Mount Baker W 56-38 Lynden L 39-37 King's South Whidbey W 68-31, 66-32 Mount Baker W 62-38 Lynden L 60-52
Keys to the game Meridian and King's are two teams that play tremendous defense. The Trojans' 52.5 points allowed per game is impressive, especially in a talent-rich Northwest Conference, but so is the Knights' 42.4 points allowed per game. Meridian faced a similar defensively strong team last game in Lynden Christian, and I believe Meridian will again have to find another offensive answer other than Alex Martin. It's no secret King's, like LC, will try to limit Martin's opportunites, and Trojans will need players such as Kyle Young, Blake Briones and Jacob Plagerman to step up. Meridian will also need to make rebounding a top priority. The Trojans have a few players at 6-foot-3, and Sam Chambers is a strong rebounder, but King's lists five players at 6-foot-4 or taller and start at least three of them. The Knights have a balanced attack, and it will be interesting to see if Meridian can do the same thing defensively that it did to Lynden Christian.
Prediction Meridian seems to be playing its best basketball right now and already has set itself up with a great opportunity to reach the state tournament this season. Saying that, taking down King's will be a very difficult task. It's no secret the Cascade Conference is far weaker than the NWC (Besides Lynden, King's other loss was to CC 2A champ Sultan, which lost early in the year to Sedro-Woolley 95-72), but I think King's defense will be a bit too much for the Trojans to overcome. I predict a score in the range of King's 54, Meridian 45.