For a team filled with seniors starving for a trip to Yakima’s SunDome, leave it to a sophomore to carry the Mariners through.
Sehome looked to be on its way to more regional state tournament heartbreak, staring at a five-point deficit with just a couple minutes to play. But when the Mariners desperately needed someone to provide an answer on offense, Marcus Montag gladly obliged.
The talented sophomore scored the game’s final nine points, which included a game-tying layup off a clever drive and a go-ahead 3-pointer from the left wing with 1:05 to play.
He added four clutch free throws to seal the game, gifting the Mariners a trip to Yakima with a 67-60 Class 2A State Tournament regional round win over Washington High School of Tacoma on Friday, Feb. 27, at Renton High School.
“It was a little stressful, but everyone was telling me, ‘Keep going, keep going,’” Montag said, “and we knew somebody was going to make a play, and it just happened to be me.”
Sehome’s players mobbed each other as the final buzzer sounded, and some, like senior Tanner Clark, couldn’t keep his emotions from overflowing into tears.
“I’m just so happy for the kids,” said Sehome coach AJ LaBree, who has his team in the Elite 8 for the first time since the Mariners placed fifth in state in 2008. “They’ve all wanted it for a long time. Just look at the reaction of Tanner here. Phenomenal job, especially when the fourth quarter, they got up five, and we really had to show some fight to really pull this one out.”
Montag finished with 17 points, Leif Anderson, who hit a late 3 to cut Sehome’s deficit to 60-58, finished with 12, Clark had 10 and a team-high nine rebounds, but junior Leighton Kingma was Sehome’s go-to offense early on.
The 6-foot-6 guard/forward finished with a team-high 20 points, scoring 14 during the first quarter before playing small stretches in the second half due to foul trouble. Kingma shot 6 of 6 from the floor in the first with two triples from the left baseline.
“He’s a great, great offensive player, especially when he’s hitting 3s like that,” LaBree said. “He can do so much for you. He carried us early, and he’s been doing that a lot.”
Neither Sehome or Washington were able to build too commanding of a first-half lead. The Mainers trailed once late in the first quarter, but held a one- or two-possession lead most of the first 16 minutes.
The Mariners biggest lead was six, 34-28, when Clark connected on a short jumper. Sehome went on a 7-0 run early in the third, powered by baskets from Clark, Langston Engle and a 3 by Kingma, to put the Mariners in front 43-35 with 5:50 to go in the third quarter.
But the Patriots mounted a 7-0 run of their own to steal back the game’s momentum, pulling it even at 45 before LaBree called a timeout.
From the 2:05 mark in the third to the 5:40 mark in the fourth, the Mariners were held without a field goal, and Washington took advantage using their height inside.
Patriots’ Willie Thomas scored 11 of his 12 points in the final two quarters, and he helped Washington take a 58-53 lead with 3:10 to go.
Anderson made two free throws before Jones scored to give the Patriots a 60-55 lead with 2:40 remaining. Anderson then kept the Mariners alive with a 3-pointer from the right wing, setting up Montag’s scoring surge as the Mariners scored the game’s final 12 points.
“It’s something you dream about since you are a little kid,” said Clark about heading to play in the SunDome. “It’s just the best feeling. There is nothing better.”
Tory Causey scored 12 points for Washington, Kaleb Whitemarsh had 10 and Chandler Whalen scored 10.
Sehome 67, Washington 60
Sehome: Langston Engle 4, Logan Deboo 0, Elijah Andrushenko 2, Sam Carroll 0, Leif Anderson 12, Duncan James 2, Marcus Montag 17, Tanner Clark 10, Leighton Kingma 20. Totals: 24-49 11-13 67.
Washington: Jaomani Scott 2, Tory Causey 12, Tre Tyson 8, Kaleb Whitemarsh 10, Alijah Maddox 0, Willie Thomas 12, Chandler Whalen 10, David Ioane 6, Tyquan Bowie 0. Totals: 24-53 6-11 60.
3-point field goals — Sehome: 8 (Kingma 4); Washington: 6 (Tyson/Whitemarsh 2). Rebounds — Sehome: 34 (Clark 9); Washington: 26 (Whalen 6). Assists — Sehome: 5 (Anderson 2); Washington: 4 (Whalen 2). Fouls — Sehome: 14; Washington: 15. Turnovers — Sehome: 8; Washington: 6.