UW's last-minute show warms up the MLK basketball events

For much of the game, the Huskies put on a how-not-to primer for the high schoolers playing in holiday events.

For much of the game, the Huskies put on a how-not-to primer for the high schoolers playing in holiday events.

All the coaches showing kids how to play today (Monday, Jan. 16) in the annual King Holiday Hoopfest events should note that the University of Washington Husky men’s team provided a primer Sunday (Jan. 15) about how to win: Skip the first half and, during the second, just get the ball to Terrence Ross.

The prep-level kids playing at Hec Edmundson and Foster High in Tukwila on Monday obviously can’t count on Ross, the sophomore from Portland who had 26 points in the second half after just four during the first session. Add 14 rebounds and you’ve got one of the best complete games in memory by a Husky, as the 11-6 Dawgs, after trailing for 31 minutes, beat Washington State 75-65 and ran their conference record to 4-1. Cal and Stanford, each 5-1 in, come to Seattle later this week.

The men’s win was part of a Western Washington weekend when those of us home-bound with snow issues could appreciate having basketball to sustain us. Even if the snow depth didn’t always come up to media-frenzy expectations (there was talk of it two-feet thick at KING-5’s Jim Forman’s place, though it turned out there was only a trace of actual snow), the basketball exploits did.

The Martin Luther King-observance weekend this year is attended by a wide array of hoops activity. Saturday, for example, while the University of Washington women (10-5) were besting their cross-state rivals at Washington State, the Undead SuperSonics thundered their way to 11-2 — second best in the N.B.A. — with a win against the New York Knicks in the Seattle franchise’s home-away-from-home of Oklahoma City.

While Seattle’s marquee local game would be the Husky men’s victory, perhaps the most frenzied set of events was reserved for Monday. From early morning to well into the night, 12 major high-school-boys’ teams and a pair of girls’ contingents would compete in seven games at Hec Edmundson, assuming anybody could get there. Another seven games featuring stellar girls’ program would grace the hoop court at Foster. Younger athletes have been competing since Saturday at several other gyms in the region.

The prep events include tributes to King, the observances adding to at least a dozen other non-sports-related official Western Washington Jan. 16 events honoring the civil-rights leader slain in 1968.

Why a King-observance link with youth basketball?  Possibly because it’s seasonally correct, given that King was born Jan. 15, albeit, in 1929, well before the sport became all the rage for many. In any case, visitors to Hec Ed Monday could look forward to hours of prep-hoops action for just 10 bucks admission, with much of the take going to Boys & Girls Clubs of King County.

The Husky men, desperately missing injured guard C.J. Wilcox, showed how not to win at home during the first 30-odd minutes against Wazzu, which had triumphed in Seattle four times during he recent six years. Missed shots, bad passes, and stupid fouls had the Dawgs down by 10 with 15 minutes left. Then Ross started hitting from every direction, with his final point, from the foul stripe, giving his team its widest margin: 15 points.

Perhaps Ross put on his second-half show knowing that the Hec Ed stands had some fans connected with his high-school playing days in Portland. The MLK high-school tournament has become such an anticipated event that it perennially lures teams from other areas. One of Monday's games involved Ross’s Rose City alma mater, Jefferson.

The Huskies, meanwhile, will need to figure out how to face better upcoming competition without Wilcox, who isn’t expected to play against the Bay Area visitors. Cal and Stanford coaches no doubt are plotting about what to do to defend against the Huskies. Ross seems to have shown precisely what they need to do during the second half.


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