MARYSVILLE – Machai took on Malakhi, and the Cougar came out the victor.
For three quarters, Lakewood tried to guard Marysville Getchell standout Malakhi Knight one-on-one with just about everybody but the ball boy.
But the Charger still had 20 points at that point.
In the final stanza, Lakewood coach Anthony Wiederkehr changed the defense to a box-and-one zone, with senior Machai Harris guarding Knight. Knight ended the game with 22 points, not scoring until 47 seconds left, when the game no longer in doubt.
During that time, Lakewood went from trailing 42-39 to winning 62-54.
“We just did not let him get the ball,” Wiederkehr said of Knight. It was like he was playing chess all night, trying different things to stop the Charger star. “We had to find a way to win,” he added.
Harris, who led the 2A Cougars with 19, said he was pumped for the game, playing against the bigger 3A school and one of the top players in the area.
“I just got up in him and tried to restrict him as much as I could,” Harris said. While it was the defensive switch that changed the game around, Wiederkehr said it was Harris’s shooting at the end of the third period that ignited the squad’s energy.
After MG’s Chase Showalter hit a 3 to put MG up 40-31 with about three minutes remaining in the third period, Harris got hot. He hit a bucket and two 3’s to end the third and hit another 3 to knot the score at 42-42 early in the last period.
Another long 3 by Harris put the visitors up 51-45 and when Morgan Stacey passed to Jared Taylor for another 3 that ended a 15-3 run with about three minutes left in the game.
Lakewood’s on-the-ball pressure led to one turnover after another much of the game, but especially the final quarter. When Stacey hit a 3 Lakewood went up by 10 before Knight scored his lone last-period bucket. The teams were tied at 12-12 after one quarter, but Knight scored 10 in the second period to give MG a 31-25 halftime lead. He hit a 3, stole the ball for a layup, scored inside, assisted on a score by Jesse Donk, scored inside and hit the following free throw as he was fouled. Donk added two other buckets and Caleb Koellmer hit a long 3.
In the second half, Knight scored on a fastbreak and a dunk to put the Chargers up 36-27. But except for a floater for the last bucket of that quarter that was it for the 6-foot-3 sophomore.
Other scoring for Lakewood had Stacey with 15, Alex Jensen with 13, Alex Coleman with 9, and Taylor had 6.