Conventional wisdom said Mill Valley’s boys would have trouble with Washington’s length and athleticism Saturday in the Lansing Class 5A substate Bracket B final.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Conventional wisdom was dead wrong, as the host Jaguars proved with a surprisingly easy 65-50 win.
Washington’s press was supposed to make life tough on Mill Valley.
The Wildcats’ transition game was supposed to overwhelm the undersized Jaguars.
Instead, it was Mill Valley, 18-3, that did most of the damage on the run, racking up easy baskets off leakouts and back-door cuts while making Washington, 15-6, work for everything at the offensive end.
“We talked about attacking all night,” Jaguars coach Justin Bogart said. “We knew we were going to win that game at the rim and at the free-throw line.”
That aggressiveness paid off as Mill Valley went 16 for 23 at the line compared to Washington’s five-for-11 performance.
With the win, the Jaguars reached state for the second time in program history and the first time since 2006.
“When we saw the girls get to state for the first time (Friday) night, we all looked at each other as a team and said, ‘We have to get there,’ ” Mill Valley senior Nathan Stacy said. “We didn’t want to get shown up, so we had to get there — and it feels terrific.”
Midway through the second quarter, Washington was still hanging around, trailing only 21-17 after senior Verdell Mays rattled home a runner in the paint.
That’s when Mill Valley pulled away with a 9-0 run. Stacy drilled a three-pointer, sophomore Patrick Muldoon, who finished with 14 points, added a bucket and junior Wyatt Voorhes, who scored 19, netted back-to-back buckets as the lead ballooned to 13 points.
From there, every time the Wildcats made a run, the Jaguars had an effective counterpunch.
“This is the best defensive team we’ve had here in 13 years,” Bogart said. “That’s what we came into the season thinking we needed to do, and our kids have executed defensive game plans nearly to perfection all year. Tonight was the best example of that.”
Offensively, it was Stacy — who finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, all game-highs — doing much of the damage.
“All the tightness and nerves he might have been experiencing, he got them out in the first half of the Leavenworth (substate semifinal) game,” Bogart said. “He came to play tonight and was a vocal leader. When we need a big shot or a big play, Nathan’s our man.”
Obviously, Stacy was elated to make state for the first time.
“It was the last home game all the seniors will ever play at Mill Valley, so it was pretty emotional,” Stacy said. “I feel good walking off this floor for the last time, knowing we’re going to the state tournament next weekend.”
Senior DeAndre King — whose father, Eric, coaches the Wildcats — finished with a team-high 21 points.
To reach Tod Palmer, send email to email@example.com