The top-ranked Raiders got 36 points and 15 rebounds from All-American Michael Porter Jr., but also seem lethargic and uninterested in state tournament opener.
TACOMA — Nathan Hale coach Brandon Roy had a strange postgame message for his players, considering the Raiders had just won a state-tournament game by 23 points.
“I just told them I apologized for not making sure things were squared away,” Roy said. “But even then that’s still not an excuse.”
The fact is, Hale beat Stanwood 86-63 on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state tournament. Other than the first three minutes, Hale never trailed, and McDonald’s All-American Michael Porter Jr. scored 36 points and had 15 rebounds.
Still, Hale looked a little sleepy, lethargic and disinterested.
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“I’m just racking my brain to figure out how to get them excited about this being the state tournament and this being the first round,” Roy said. “We have to look like we want to be here a little more. I don’t know. They do a great job of winning games like this, and then they’ll turn it on. So hopefully we have a switch we can hit and be ready to play like we like playing basketball. It just felt like we were trying to get through it.”
Hale faces a tougher challenge in Friday’s semifinals at 7:15 p.m.: the undefeated Lincoln Abes, who beat Seattle Prep 70-58 in the quarterfinals.
(Hale’s players weren’t available to talk after the game, per Roy’s policy. “That was just something I wanted to do after the regular season,” Roy said. “I just felt like this time of year, we want to focus in on what we want to do, and them being high-school kids, I’ll do the talking for them. They need to be prepared to play, and it takes a lot of pressure off of them.”)
Nathan Hale entered the 3A tournament as the heavy favorite and the No. 1-ranked team in the country. Porter, a Washington signee, is the No. 1-ranked player according to both ESPN and Rivals.com.
But Roy has noticed this season that at times his team can coast, doing just enough to win. The Raiders had little problem cruising past Stanwood. After trailing 6-3 two minutes into the game, the Raiders led 20-10 at the end of the first quarter. They led by at least 10 points the rest of the way.
Yet it was obvious to anyone watching that Hale was off.
“I can tell when they’re like, ‘All right, Coach, we know what we did wrong, and we’re ready to correct it,’ ” Roy said. “I didn’t feel like it was something I had to really jump on them about.”
Porter still offered personal moments of basketball brilliance. In the first half alone, he pinned a layup against the backboard, drove past all five Stanwood players for a dunk, blocked a shot into the crowd and, most ridiculous of all, threw down a one-handed dunk after a teammate passed to him off the backboard.
In the fourth quarter, Porter missed a shot, went up for the rebound and dunked his own miss. He made 12 of 21 shots, but if there is such a thing as cruising to 36 points in a 32-minute high-school game, that’s what Porter did.
“I just felt like he was picking his spots too much,” Roy said. “We need him to be consistent through the game instead of just scoring in barrages like he’s kind of been doing the last couple weeks.”
P.J. Fuller had 19 points and seven rebounds for Hale, and Jontay Porter scored 13 points.