The 10th-ranked Hawks played like genuine title contenders last night, pushing aside Curtis from University Place, 63-56, in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome.

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TACOMA — The progress has been steady and sure, building to this point, where now it looks as if the Mountlake Terrace boys basketball team really could live up to its preseason expectations.

The 10th-ranked Hawks played like genuine title contenders last night, pushing aside Curtis from University Place, 63-56, in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome.


Now, after two straight years of two-and-out state finishes, Mountlake Terrace finds itself two wins from a championship. The Hawks (21-5) face second-ranked Bethel (26-2) in the semifinals tonight at 8:30.

“I guess it’s just been overdue,” said senior Christiaan Hammond, who scored 17 points, 10 better than his regular-season average. “We’ve learned from the experience being here two years in a row. Now, we’ve just got to play harder, more fierce.”


Mountlake Terrace started the season ranked No. 2 in the state. But early losses to Box Hill of Australia and Shorewood, coupled with a winter-break pounding by 3A state champion O’Dea, left many wondering if the Hawks had what it took to make a run in Tacoma.

The last two days have supplied plenty of answers.


“Any basketball team that is good wants to peak at the right time,” said Terrace coach Nalin Sood. “And I don’t know. Maybe this basketball team is peaking right now.”

Last night, four Hawks scored in double figures. Leigh Swanson had 14 points and eight rebounds, Michael Boxley added 11 points and nine rebounds, and Luke Hammond had 11 rebounds. The Hawks shot 46 percent (22 of 48) and showed resilience in holding off a talented Curtis team.


Terrace led by as many as 13 in the third quarter, but Curtis fought back to trail by two in the final period. The last time was at 49-47 with 4:16 left.

The Hawks made 9 of 10 free throws in the final 1:19.


Sophomore guard Isaiah Thomas scored 26 points on 8-of-20 shooting, and had five steals, three assists and two rebounds to lead Curtis.

Thomas, who made all 17 of his foul shots Wednesday against Inglemoor, stretched his streak to 19 before missing a pair of free throws with 1:04 left in the first half. He is 25 of 27 from the line in the tournament.


“We didn’t come out and play hard the first half,” Thomas said.

Matt Peterson: 206-515-5536 or mpeterson@seattletimes.com