TACOMA — This time, Mount Si would not be denied.
A year after getting to the title game, then getting routed, the Wildcats have their championship.
After No. 4 Central Valley scored the first two points, No. 3 Mount Si responded with a 12-0 run and never trailed again to win 58-47 Saturday afternoon in the Class 4A boys basketball state championship game at the Tacoma Dome.
“I thought I knew what it was going to feel like, but it feels much better,” said senior guard Tyler Patterson, the team’s second-leading scorer during the season. To come up short last year, and win it all this year, it’s unmatched.”
Central Valley (25-3) made run after run, and every time Mount Si (26-4) responded.
The Wildcats made big shots when they had to and the biggest came from senior guard Jabe Mullins, who hit a contested three-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer with 3:46 left to give the Wildcats a 49-38 lead. The Bears never recovered from that.
“When I hit that, I looked up at the clock and I think we kind of knew if we defend and do the things that we needed to do, we’ve got the state championship,” said Mullins, who had a game-high 26 points and seven assists and was the tournament MVP.
It was sweet redemption for Mount Si of Snoqualmie, which lost 69-43 in last year’s title game to Gonzaga Prep. Wildcats coach Jason Griffith said that made the title even more meaningful.
“Absolutely it did,” Griffith said. “They worked 12 months. They were dialed in, they were in the weight room, doing all the offseason stuff and they earned every second of this.”
Mount Si has a plethora of good offensive players and several three-point threats, but it was the defense that stood out this past week. Three straight games they held their opponents — Federal Way, Glacier Peak and Central Valley — to their lowest-scoring games of the season.
“A lot of times we get attention for the guys who are going to college for what they do offensively, but we play good defense,” Griffith said. “That’s how we got here last year, and they knew they wanted to get back, that’s what we had to do again.”
The Wildcats, just like they did Friday when it held Glacier Peak without a first-quarter point, got off to a great start that was spurred by their defense. They led 14-6 after one quarter, holding Central Valley of Spokane Valley to one field goal.
Mount Si scored the first seven points of the second quarter to take a 15-point lead. Someone needed to step up for Central Valley and it was junior reserve forward Teagen Hoard, who had scored a total of three points in the first two games for the Bears in Tacoma.
He made himself an unlikely hero for his team, scoring 10 second-quarter points and keeping the Bears in the game with Mount Si leading 29-22 at halftime.
Dylan Darling made a three-point play just before the third-period buzzer to cut Mount Si’s lead to 39-34. But Mount Si scored the first five points of the fourth quarter and Mullins’ big shot later in the period ended much of the suspense.
On Friday, in a 62-49 win over previously undefeated Glacier Peak, Mullins had eight points and 14 assists. He found success driving to the basket against the Bears and found himself looking to score more, even though it wasn’t planned.”
“I never go into a game thinking like that,” Mullins said. “I just want to make winning plays for the team.”
He made plenty.
Perhaps no one was more happy afterward than Tyler Patterson, who was able to share the moment with younger brother Quin, a sophomore starting guard.
“It’s amazing,” Tyler said. “I couldn’t ask for a better way to celebrate.”