By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
The Tulalip Hawks hit the road and travelled north for a matchup with the Hurricanes of Mt. Vernon Christian. A 3rd round game of Districts with a chance to play in the 1st/2nd place game, Tulalip’s adoring fans hit the road, too, and actually outnumbered the Hurricanes fans in their own building.
A tense atmosphere in the early going as both teams traded buckets to notch it at 7-7. With chants of “Defense!”, the boys turned up their defensive intensity and forced the Hurricanes to play out of their comfort zone. Tulalip got their transition game going and continued to force the tempo to run up a 28-21 lead at halftime.
Midway in the 3rd quarter, freshman guard J.J. Gray caught fire from deep and swished in three straight 3’s to push his team’s 43-31. With 3:00 in the 3rd quarter, the Hurricane’s called timeout to attempt to settle their team, but instead were met with a devastating chant of “Tulalip Power!” from the unrelenting visiting fans.
In the 4th quarter, the game tightened up and the usual shots for the Hawks weren’t falling. The Hurricanes finally started to execute their offense and flipped the turnover script by getting Tulalip to force errant pass after errant pass. The boys watched their 12 point lead vanish and were suddenly trailing 43-44 with three minutes to go.
Freshman guard Amare Hatch finally put an end to his team’s scoring drought by coming up with a steal and scoring a contested layup. Moments later he’d splash a 3 that put his team up for good, 48-45. Just for good measure, senior forward Hazen Shopbell, instead of holding the ball and waiting for the Hurricanes to foul him, opted to shoot a 3 of his own and join in on the long ball party. Fortunately, it went in to the delight and uproar of his teammates and all the Tulalip fans who knew the W was secured.
The Hawks 52-46 win means no less than 2nd place in Districts. They’ll again hit the road, this time for Lummi Nation, for a matchup with the Blackhawks on February 8.