Crusaders capture fifth place at Class 3A state tournament

The Eastside Catholic Crusaders boys basketball team unveiled an overall record of 2-2 at the Class 3A state tournament from Feb. 28 through March 3 at the Tacoma Dome.

The Lincoln Abes defeated Eastside Catholic 64-59 in the Class 3A third/fifth place game on March 3. The Crusaders finished the 2017-18 season with an overall record of 22-8. Crusaders’ senior Brock Mackenzie scored a team-high 18 points in the final game of his high school career against Lincoln. Eastside Catholic freshman Jaylahn Tuimoloau added 10 points as well. Eastside Catholic head coach Brent Merritt was disappointed his squad didn’t hold on for the victory against Lincoln in the season finale. Eastside Catholic led Lincoln by eight points at halftime and by by five points at the end of the third quarter. Lincoln outscored Eastside Catholic 20-10 in the final eight minutes of the contest.

“We didn’t want to take fifth. We wanted to take third (place). We were in control of the game the whole way,” Eastside Catholic head coach Brent Merritt said.

Mackenzie, who will collegiate basketball at Point Loma Nazarene University next season, will look back on his high school basketball career at Eastside Catholic with the fondest of memories.

“We just have a family atmosphere. Everyone bought in and everyone loves each other. We are all brothers on and off the court,” Mackenzie said.

Merritt, who has coached Mackenzie since he took over the Eastside Catholic boys basketball program during the 2015-16 season, first noticed Mackenzie while he was an assistant coach at Garfield High School during the 2014-15 season. Mackenzie was a freshman on the Eastside Catholic varsity team that season.

“Brock is a leader and he has gotten better every year. He is all about the team. Brock is Eastside Catholic all the way. He has bought in and he makes everybody else buy in. It is going to be tough losing him. I wish him the best in his career. I love that kid,” Merritt said.