State 3A boys: Ryan Lafferty, Mt. Spokane runs past Mountlake Terrace to reach semifinal third year in a row

Feb. 29—Mt. Spokane is no stranger to the Tacoma Dome this time of year. The Wildcats have reached the state venue the past five tournaments — with a second, third and fifth to show for it. Still, the ultimate prize has eluded David Wagenblast's team.

They arrived at the tournament in a little different manner this year, and perhaps even a bit wounded, having lost the district tournament to North Central.

Maybe that loss served as a wake-up call, as the Wildcats rebounded last weekend by downing third-seeded Garfield 74-64 in an opening round game.

For its quarterfinal matchup, the sixth-seeded Wildcats drew fifth-seeded Mountlake Terrace, which had to battle through Wednesday's Round-of-12 matchup, eventually downing 13th-seeded Todd Beamer 69-59.

The Wildcats strategically utilized pressure defense to wear out its opponent and lights-out shooting on the other end to come away an easy winner.

Greater Spokane League MVP Ryan Lafferty scored 27 points, fellow senior Drew Rayment added 19 and the Wildcats ran away from the Hawks 82-58.

"We've got nine seniors," Wildcats coach David Wagenblast said. "Ryan and Drew have played nine games on this floor — that's half a season for a lot of kids. So that experience goes a really long way."

Mt. Spokane(21-4) shot 64% for the game. Lafferty went 12 of 13 and Rayment 9 of 14.

"We came out fast," Lafferty said. "It's always good to get your first game in the dome over with. "So yeah, it was a good confidence booster for us."

"We've been very efficient the last two weeks," Wagenblast said. "And the kids have really bought into not just the plan, but just absolutely going to make winning plays every possession and the guys are fighting for each other. They're setting great screens, they're being patient. And you know, the big thing about shooting that well, that means that you're not taking very many bad shots."

So, once again the Wildcats will play on the weekend at state.

"We just want it more than ever," he said. "Getting to the semifinals the past few years and losing... this year we all have a chip on our shoulder, and we want to get it more than ever."

"(Wagenblast) is a great coach," Rayment said. "He watched the film. He'll do a lot of studying on the team before us. It feels great to be prepared for every team we come to play against."

Both teams came out with a blistering pace in the first. Drew Rayment had 12 points in the period, Lafferty added eight and Mt. Spokane led 22-16 after one.

"We wanted to get out in transition," Rayment said. "We tried to pass the ball ahead and get their defense tired to start the game."

Sam Davidson came off the bench for a pair of 3-pointers and the Wildcats lead grew to 36-22 midway through the second. Lafferty had nine in the period, 17 in the half as Mt. Spokane shot 68% and led 43-31 at the break.

Nalu Vargas hit a corner 3 to stretch the lead to 15 with 4 minutes left in the third and added another one a minute later. The Wildcats led by 16, at 63-47, after three.

The Wildcats continued to press in the fourth quarter, forcing turnovers and rushed shots. Lafferty converted a three-point play and the next time down popped a 3 from the top of the key. Lafferty's dunk off a fastbreak pushed the lead past 20 with 3 1/2 minutes to go — and then he checked out of the game.

"We were able to change tempo a little bit by pressing," Wagenblast said. "It was effective with the team that does a really good job and runs of a lot of sets. So, the pressure kind of helped us to guard them a little bit better."

Zaveon Jones led Mountlake Terrace (22-4) with 20 points and eight rebounds and Jaxon Dubiel added 14 points.