MILL CREEK – For much of this season, junior Raequan Battle and sophomore Luke Dobler have led Mount-Pilchuck in scoring.
Wednesday, in the Tommies 61-49 win over Arlington in the district playoffs, Dobler again led the way with 22 points.
However, Battle’s shots were just a little off most of the night, four times rolling around the rim and popping out.
So he found other ways to help M-P win.
Battle’s not really known for his defense. In the first quarter, for example, Arlington junior Ayodele Aribibola easily scored inside on him to give the Eagles a 6-2 lead.
But in the crucial third quarter, when Arlington made a run after trailing by as many as 11 in the second quarter, Battle stood out on defense.
The Eagles actually took the lead for the first time since the early going with 2:58 left in the third 32-31. Aribibola hit a 3 and scored with a back-door pass from junior Anthony Whitis, then Whitis hit a 3.
But Battle picked up M-P’s defense with a couple of steals, a few blocked shots and rugged play on the boards. At one point Battle continued to block out Aribibola, moving him about 10 feet away from the basket, that a referee had to step in to make sure the two were under control.
“He’s a complete player,” M-P coach Barry Gould said of Battle.
M-P held off the rally and Battle and Dobler both knocked down 3’s to give the Tommies a 39-35 lead after three periods.
“It’s a game of runs, and we were able to sustain more runs,” Gould said.
Battle blocked another shot early in the fourth quarter and sophomore Aaron Kaleb hit a 3, Dobler hit a bucket, junior Jose Gutierrez drove for a score and Battle, who ended with 15 points, followed up a miss with a put-back shot to make it 48-39.
The end of the game was rather anti-climactic as both teams got into foul trouble, two Eagles fouling out. The Tomahawks made 13 of 16 free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
The first 12 minutes of the game were all about Dobler. He hit 3’s from the left baseline, the right baseline and then to the left of the top of the key as M-P led 11-7 after one.
He made two free throws and a short jumper in the key to start the second.
“He does all the little things exactly right,” Gould said of Dobler to the Everett Herald. “He has to, because he’s limited athletically, and he knows it… He’s crossing guys up, he’s hitting pull-up jumpers, he’s hitting 3’s, he doesn’t turn the ball over, he handles the ball.
“He’s a 10th-grader, but I never worry when he’s in the game.”
After that, others got on the board with Kobe Baumann hitting a 3, Josiah Gould scoring off a fastbreak and on a drive, Battle popping a jumper in the lane and Baumann making another 3 from downtown Mill Creek at the buzzer as M-P led at the half 27-19.
Jaraen Cary stood out for the Eagles that quarter with three baskets. Aribibola, who led the losing team with 15, showed nice touch on a half-hook and Gutierrez scored inside.
With the win, M-P is going to state for the second-straight year after a long drought of 25 years. The Tommies, 18-4, play for the district title against Stanwood Saturday night. M-P beat that team 77-68 two months ago.