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Eastside Catholic outlasts scrappy Mountlake Terrace to secure Class 3A regional win

Junior big man Jacob Cofie leads the way with 21 points as Crusaders advance right into quarterfinal round in Tacoma next week

BELLEVUE – Sixth-seeded Mountlake Terrace gave everything third-seeded Eastside Catholic could handle Saturday night, but the Crusaders did just enough down the stretch to escape with a 54-52 victory.

From the opening tip, the much shorter Hawks fought tooth and nail until the final whistle of the Class 3A regional matchup.

Eastside Catholic coach Brent Merritt put things simply after the game: the players underestimated Mountlake Terrace.

"We didn't respect our opponent and [Mountlake Terrace] wanted it more than we did," he said. "It was just a lack of respect for who we were playing."

The Hawks and Crusaders were locked in a back-and-forth battle all game with either team not being able to push its lead to more than two possessions for the most part.

Eastside Catholic's largest lead of the game didn't come until the fourth quarter when the Crusaders were able to put together a run to go up by 10 with about three minutes left.

But as it had all game long, Mountlake Terrace wouldn't go away.

Trailing 54-44, the Hawks scored the last eight points of the game to get within two, but weren't able to get off an attempt at a game-tying shot.

Junior Jacob Cofie led Eastside Catholic with a game-high 21 points. Junior guard Kayden Greene added 15 on five made 3-pointers.

With the win, Eastside Catholic moves straight into the Class 3A quarterfinals in the Tacoma Dome next week. The Crusaders will play at 7:15 p.m. Thursday against the winner of No. 4 Auburn and No. 12 Arlington.

Merritt said this game should serve as a bit of a wake-up call for the Crusaders as they head to Tacoma.

"[We have to be] focused, attention to detail, respect all of your opponents," he said. "We have no idea who we're going to play. It could be anyone and everyone is good at this point, so you have to respect your opponents."

Cofie said they'll be heading to the state tournament confident.

"We gotta play smart and play hard. Talent-wise we have enough to win it all," Cofie said. 

Mountlake Terrace got double-digit scoring efforts from Zaveon Jones (18) and Jaxon Dubiel (17).

The Hawks will play in a loser-out game at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday against No. 14 North Thurston at the Tacoma Dome.