AUBURN — A share of the 3A Greater St. Helens League title.
A No. 1 seed to the bi-district tournament.
A spot in the Class 3A state tournament.
So many boxes were checked by Mountain View High’s boys basketball team in its historic season, and despite Tuesday’s 67-57 loss to Auburn Mountainview in the Class 3A boys Opening Round, the Thunder resoundingly say this season is a success.
“One-hundred percent,” said senior guard Jacob Martin. “Basketball is really tough in Washington, especially in 3A. “… Making it this far, especially for a Southwest Washington team, it’s not just Mountain View, but also putting Vancouver basketball on the map, and I feel like we did that.
“We proved to these teams up north that we can play with them. And hang with them. I’m proud of us as a team.”
The loss ends No. 18-seeded Mountain View’s season at 15-11 while No. 15 Auburn Mountainview (15-9) advances to play No. 10 Bellevue on Saturday.
On Tuesday, Mountain View not only played and hung with an Auburn Mountainview team out of the North Puget Sound League, it was tied with the Lions (15-9) as late as the 5-minute, 29-second mark of the fourth quarter after Mountain View did what it does best this postseason: mount a comeback after trailing by double digits.
However, nine first-half turnovers were part of the first-half story of Mountain View trailing 30-21 at halftime. That deficit grew to 14 just 3 minutes into the third before the Thunder clawed all the way back to tie it at 46-all.
Not only did it get big production offensively and defensively from its all-league starters, but also key contributions off the bench from Tage Ghuman (13 points) and Tre Hughes-Farmer (six). Hughes-Farmer’s floater in the lane tied it at 48-all at the 5:20 mark of the fourth.
The following possession, momentum was shattered. Anthony Barzul hit corner 3s in consecutive possessions to give Auburn Mountainview a quick 6-0 run in 32 seconds. Isaiah Vargas’ first 3 of the game at the 1:27 mark was as close as Mountain View got.
Vargas had 11 of his 16 points after halftime, and Martin finished with eight.
For a better part of the past decade, Thunder boys basketball has seen its struggles in the win-loss column. Under head coach JC Alexander, the Thunder began a turnaround. By Year 5 — last season — Mountain View was within one game of state.
Then came Tuesday. Vargas remembers how his first year of varsity basketball went as a ninth grader in 2019-2020: a 5-15 campaign.
‘We turned it around from there,” he said. “We stayed in the gym and stayed connected. We bonded and we had that chemistry to take it further.”
And it started with Vargas and Martin, the Thunder’s two four-year varsity players. The impact of them and the entire senior class that also includes Peter Nguyen, Noah Morishige and Ledarius Washington had coach JC Alexander figuring out what not to leave out.
“I could go on for hours with this senior group — it’s a special one,” Alexander said. Not only have they set the bar high for this year, but also for the future for the kids coming up. And they’ve been tremendous examples of what we want as a coaching staff and what my vision was six years ago.”
3A OPENING ROUND
At Auburn Mountainview HS
AUBURN MOUNTAIN VIEW 67, MOUNTAIN VIEW 57
AUBURN MOUNTAIN VIEW — Jamaal Elliott 22, Mande Waniemvo 17, Gamard Arius 12, Anthony Barzul 14. Totals 23 (8) 11-15 67.
MOUNTAIN VIEW — Jacob Martin 8, Isaiah Vargas 16, Tyler Aimone 2, Peter Nguyen, Noah Morishige 0, Daniel Dolev 0, Cooper White 0, Madden Wilson 3, Tage Ghuman 13, Jack Johnson 0, Tre Hughes-Farmer 6, Ledarius Washington 9. Totals 22 (5) 10-16 57.
AubMtV 14 16 14 23—67
MtnView 11 10 20 16—57