Auburn Mountainview swept their opponents in the opening round of the state tournament Feb. 21, winning both boys and girls basketball games at home.
“After everything we’ve gone through. I think we’re ready for anything,” said Lions boys head coach Kendall White.
The boys beat the Mountain View High School (Vancouver, Wash.) Thunder, 67-57, and the girls took down Gig Harbor by a score of 40-28.
The Elliotts carried the Lions into the next round: Jamaal Elliott totaled 22 points in the boys win and Maliyah Elliott scored 16 both team highs.
The boys started off the night in a “battle of mountain views.” The Lions never trailed in the contest and also never led by more than 10.
“Coach K puts a lot of trust in me to be a leader on the court. I try and help my team be there best so we can win the game,” Jamaal Elliott said.
By the end of the first the Lions were up by 14-11, with spread out scoring between the Lions. At one point, Auburn Mountainview led by as much as 14-5, but two threes late in the quarter gave the Thunder some momentum.
The Lions were better defensively in the second half and rebounded the ball well to give them a nine-point halftime lead. Elliott was the leading scorer at the half with 11 points, while Gamard Arius had eight points, giving the Lions a solid performance as well.
The first three minutes of the second half was the Mande Wanlemvo show. He scored more points in that span than the entire first half.
“You have to kind of remind him who he is. He’s not a naturally aggressive kid … So we always remind him he’s our go-to-guy. If he’s able to get going regardless of Jamaal’s play, it makes everybody’s life easier,” White said.
But the Thunder were able to go on a run late in the third and cut the lead to three points.
In the fourth quarter with a tie game, Elliott made four free throws. Each free throw either gave the Lions the lead or put them up an extra point.
“It’s a lot. I don’t let stuff get in my head. Moments like that are where I feel I can really perform,” Elliott said.
His coach put it into perspective about the growth of Jamaal’s game.
“He’s come a long way. There was a time where he wouldn’t have wanted to take those shots. But that’s just a testament to his work ethic and how much those guys rally behind him,” Coach White said.
The Lions held on in the end. There were two huge threes on back-to-back possessions from Anthony Barzul, who finished with 14 that help put the Thunder away.
Auburn Mountainview travels to Bellevue College to take on the Bellevue Wolverines, and the winner will go to the Tacoma Dome Sweet 16 matchup.
The girls were the nightcap of the doubleheader at the Lions’ gymnasium. It was a game dominated by the Lion defense. Mountainview only allowed 28 points for the Tides of Gig Harbor. It was the fourth time the Lions had held an opponent to under 30 points.
“It was a gritty win. I’m really proud of this team,” Head Coach Caitlyn Doherty said.
The Lions jumped out to a 12-7 lead despite getting out-rebounded. In the first quarter with 2:00 left, the Tides had possession of the basketball for 59 seconds with more than three shots in that span.
The second quarter was the best quarter of offense of the game for Auburn Mountainview. The Lions leader Maliyah Elliott scored nine points in the quarter and Auburn Mountainview took a 13-point lead into the break.
“I know when I get those big chances and opportunities, I’m going to take them, and pray for me that I hit them,” Maliyah said.
The second half was the opposite production wise compared to the first half. The Lions scored just four points in the third and seven points in the fourth.
“They did a good job making defensive adjustments, and we just couldn’t buy a bucket,” said Coach Caitlin Doherty.
But their defense was able to lock down on the Tides, only letting them score 12 points in the half.
“Holding a team like Gig Harbor to 28 points is something you hang your hat on,” Doherty said.
It’s rare for a brother and sister combo to not only lead their team to the final 16 teams, but also to be the leaders that they are. It’s something the Elliotts do not take lightly — they both know how special it all is.
“It’s fun. It’s exciting to see her perform. We put a lot of work in this summer. We really grinded and stayed at the gym. It means a lot,” Jamaal said.
“We are competitors. I’m always going to be his number one fan…We’re always going to be each other’s rock and just push each other to be better and help each other,” Maliyah said
The girls head to Tumwater High School to take on tenth-seeded North Thurston.
“We have to give it full effort… Take advantage of what we can, have each others’ back and be there for each other and be confident,” Maliyah said.