JC Alexander’s belief in his Mountain View High boys basketball team never waivered.
Not during a four-game losing skid in the regular-season, mostly against 4A Greater St. Helens League teams. Not after two bi-district losses at home, watching their opponent clinch Class 3A regional berths.
And especially not during Saturday night’s winner-to-regional, loser-out contest against Todd Beamer facing a first-half double-digit hole.
“Absolutely,” the coach said. “… I tell them everyday I wouldn’t want to go to war with anyone else.”
Almost a year to the date of seeing their season end in a winner-to-regional loss, Mountain View is headed back to a place the program hasn’t been in 11 seasons: regionals. It clinched the final berth out of District 3/4 in its 61-55 victory over the Titans out of Federal Way.
How does a regional berth sound to the players? What you’d expect.
“That sounds great — that sounds really fun,” said junior post Jack Johnson.
Saturday was Mountain View’s fourth game in seven days — and all home games. It also was their third attempt at clinching a regional spot. Like all the opponents before them, Beamer didn’t make it easy, but Beamer also didn’t make it easy on itself.
Beamer dressed just six players for Saturday’s game after multiple players left the bench during their bi-district loss to Stadium of Tacoma on Friday. Per Washington Interscholastic Activities Association rules, that warrants a one-game suspension.
Despite that, the visitors used a 16-0 second-quarter run to take a 38-25 advantage late in the second quarter. In fact, trailing by double-digits was a common theme for Mountain View throughout the postseason. In all four bi-district games, they trailed by double-digits at one stretch or another.
That doesn’t faze the Thunder, said senior guard Jacob Martin. He credits team chemistry.
“We didn’t want our season to end,” he said. That’s what it comes down to. At the end of the day, it’s not about the game; it’s about the people on this team. And we want our season to keep going. That’s the message that’s been passed around this week. … That’s the willpower that’s driving us in these deficits.”
Once momentum finally was on Mountain View’s side Saturday, it didn’t relinquish it. First, Johnson, a 6-foot-5 post, came off the bench and scored eight of his 12 points in the third quarter to help cut the Mountain View deficit to four. Then, the Thunder took its first lead since 25-22 at the 6:14 mark of the fourth quarter at 47-46 as part of an 11-0 scoring run. Beamer’s first field goal of the fourth quarter came with 3:38 to play when Mountain View’s lead was 53-46.
The final 2 minutes? All Mountain View: Trey Hughes-Farmer’s jumper, Tage Ghuman’s top-of-the-key-3 and two clutch free throws by Madden Wilson.
Isaiah Vargas led Mountain View with 15 points, Johnson had 12 and Wilson added 10. Caleb Berry led the Titans with 17 points, followed by 14 by Jahlil Loyd.
The WIAA will announce regional pairings for all classifications at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, followed by game times and locations. Given Mountain View’s No. 28 in RPI entering Saturday, Alexander said he’s expecting a Tuesday play-in game.
Martin, a three-sport athlete for Mountain View, said this game ranks high on his list of high school accomplishments.
“This has to be top-two, maybe one. This is the first time being to state in any sport,” he said. “It definitely feels good. Us seniors, we’ve poured so much into this program the past four years. … Every workout, every practice, it’s been for this.”
MOUNTAIN VIEW 61, TODD BEAMER 55
TODD BEAMER — Avion McLemore 4, Keanu Earnest 9, Caleb Berry 17, Ahmed Ismail 4, Jahlil Loyd 14, Abdala Shaban 3. Totals 22 (5) 4-7 55.
MOUNTAIN VIEW — Jacob Martin 7, Isaiah Vargas 15, Tyler AImone 0, Noah Morishige 3, Madden Wilson 10, Tage Ghuman 3, Jack Johnson 12, Tre Hughes-Farmer 4, Ladarius Washington 5. Totals 26 (6) 3-6 61.
Beamer 20 18 8 9 – 55
Mtn. View 19 8 15 19 – 61