Was the home playoff atmosphere and game experience everything the Mountain View Thunder thought it would be?
“It was crazier,” said junior guard Isaiah Vargas, who poured in a game-high 20 points in the Thunder’s 47-45 on Saturday afternoon over Yelm to open the 3A boys basketball bi-district tournament.
Crazier, too, for the down-to-the-wire finish in what was a down-to-the-wire game for nearly all 32 minutes. Mountain View (11-7) advances to face Todd Beamer, which fell to Timberline of Lacey, 70-40, on Wednesday in another loser-out bi-district contest. In order to reach regionals, the Thunder must win two more games. The program last reached regionals in 2012.
“We’ve got to keep the momentum,” Vargas said.
Vargas’ 20 points paced the Thunder. Aiden Nicholson and David Tauscher each added seven.
Saturday was the Thunder’s first playoff game in three seasons; the program last reached the postseason in 2018-19. And as it turned out, it’s also was the final game inside the Thunderdome. The new Mountain View High School opens this fall.
And what a finish it had.
Mountain View and Yelm played a back-and-fourth, one-possession game the final 9 minutes with no lead greater than three points. There were three ties in the final 3:31, including a 45-all tie when Yelm’s Marius Aalona (game-high 24 points) sank two free throws with 49 seconds remaining.
Twice, Mountain View was fouled on one-and-one opportunities; Vargas hit 3 of 4 down the stretch. Yelm had two chances on its final possession to tie or take the lead, but both shots were off the mark.
At one stretch in the third quarter, Mountain View’s largest lead was eight. But the difference in the fourth quarter came down to Vargas and his teammates being dialed in, he said.
And craving a much-needed playoff win.
“We were focused, we locked down on defense and finished our layups,” he said. “We wanted to stay alive and stay in the game.”
MOUNTAIN VIEW 47, YELM 45
MOUNTAIN VIEW: Jacob Martin 4, Isaiah Vargas 20, Aiden Nicholson 7, Mahkahri Bolds 0, Noah Morshige 2, Michael Tauscher 2, David Tauscher 7. Totals 17 (3) 10-14 47.
YELM: Tre Smith 7, Damian Aalona 4, Kahlin Gyekis 5m Marius Aalona 24, RJ Hominda 4, Damien Butler 1, Cooper Cleveringa 0. Totals 15 (3) 12-13 45.
Yelm 7 15 12 14 – 45
Mtn. View 9 13 13 12 – 47