One could forgive Bellarmine Prep coach Bernie Salazar for wondering how his team would respond without one of his star front court players. Sefo Liufau had missed a good portion of the early part of the season due to the extended run to the football 4A finals, and would miss the Stadium game due to his recruiting visit to the University of Colorado, where he will ply his trade next year on the gridiron for the Buffaloes. And with the Lions and Tigers locked up in a three-team battle for the top of the league standings along with South Kitsap, it added to the drama about to unfold.
But Lucas Meikle would have none of it. The 6-foot-9 forward and Gonzaga commit exploded for 25 of his team’s 51 points, with 16 coming in the second half, to lead the Lions to an easy 51-33 win over Stadium to give them the undisputed Narrows 4A lead with a 6-1 record.
“We played pretty solid on defense tonight. It was a great effort all the way around,” said Salazar.
He singled out guard Mar’kese Jackson for making life miserable most of the night for Tiger standout Eric Anderson-Connolly, holding him to 11 points. Meikle, who went 8-for-11 from the floor and 8-for-8 from the free-throw line also credited his team’s defensive effort tonight. “We had great intensity tonight. From start to finish it was a great team effort by all involved” he said.
Another big concern that was mitigated was the large Stadium front line consisting of Malik Mayeux, Lucious Brown, and Corey Glackin-Coley, who were held to just 12 points on the night.
“They did a good job moving their feet, and we could get nothing going on the offensive end tonight,” said Stadium head coach Doug Cocke’.
The Lions, who carried a 14-point lead into the second half, put their foot on the throttle and never took it off as Meikle would hurt them from every imaginable spot, including behind the arc.
Nursing a 36-22 lead going into the fourth quarter, the Lions would coast from there while thoughts would turn to the Jan. 23 showdown against South Kitsap in Port Orchard, with first place on the line again.
“They’re a good, solid team who will be a load on their home court,” Salazar said. Meikle, meanwhile, was more than happy with his offensive output on this night.
“(Shots) felt like they were falling early in the first half, and it put some heat on the Stadium defenders all night.”
Falling into third place after the loss, Cocke’ put it all into perspective. “We did not do a very good job on Meikle tonight, but we have to put this game behind us and go to work preparing for a date with Central Kitsap next Wednesday night at home. It will be a tough test and we’ll have to finish strong to get to districts.”