MILWAUKIE – As the basketball season winds down this week, the sun appears to be setting fast on the Oregon careers of Jefferson's dynamic duo, junior Lamar Washington and sophomore Marquis "Mookie" Cook.
Washington and Cook, who plan to transfer to national power AZ Compass Prep in the fall, provided another reminder of what the state will be missing Wednesday when they combined for 50 points to lead the Democrats past Mountainside 73-47 in the Blue bracket semifinals of the Portland-area culminating week tournament at Milwaukie High School.
“Those guys are good,” Mountainside coach Dustin Hewitt said. “I think the Metro is the best league, but we haven't seen two kids like that this year.”
Cook, a high-flying 6-foot-6 guard who is ranked as the No. 3 sophomore in the nation by Rivals.com, and Washington, a 6-4 guard who is averaging a 6A-high 30 points per game, are rare talents, indeed. And even though they appear headed out of state, Democrats coach Pat Strickland holds out hope that they will come back.
“Mookie and Lamar, those dudes man, they can be the best tandem, not only at Jefferson, but in the state, if they stick around and get some accolades,” Strickland said. “I still think we've got a shot. What they're looking for, it's not like we haven't done it.
“I'm going to sit down with them, and we're just going to rap and talk about it. Like I told them, I want what's best for them, but at the same time, I think what's best for you is to stay home and make it happen here at home.”
Would they reconsider?
“That's the plan to go to Compass, but we're just going to play it by ear,” Washington said. “We're just going to take it all in.”
Cook said of their plans: “We still have it as it is.”
That means Cook and Washington could be playing their final games in the state Thursday when Jefferson (13-3) meets Clackamas (15-1) in the Blue bracket final at Franklin. Clackamas edged Jesuit 65-62 in overtime in the other semifinal.
If the Democrats win, there's a chance they could play one more game against Portland Interscholastic League rival Grant, provided the Generals win the Red bracket final against Beaverton on Thursday at Franklin.
“We still want to play more,” Strickland said of a possible rematch with the Generals, a team Jefferson defeated in both league meetings this season. “We've got a a little more in the tank.”
Against Mountainside, Cook collected 28 points and 15 rebounds and Washington had 22 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals as the Democrats shook off a slow start to pull away from the scrappy Mavericks (11-5).
“It's great playing with him,” Washington said of Cook. “To play with somebody that can fly high like that, rebounds, shoot, do everything you need. I feel like he can go a long way. His potential is unmatched.”
Washington and Cook assumed a heavier load this season after posts Kamron Robinson and Nate Rawlins-Kibonge and guard Keshawn Hall – junior starters on last season's 6A quarterfinal team – did not return.
Robinson sat out on the season and has received a hardship waiver to play next season at Garfield of Seattle. Rawlins-Kibonge is enrolled at Oklahoma, where he will play football. Hall transferred to Lake Oswego, graduated early and played on the team at Humboldt State.
Cook and Washington have risen up to fill the void. Cook is averaging 18.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.2 blocks. Washington, in addition to his prolific scoring, is averaging 9.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists.
“I feel like my leader-role skills have gotten better,” Cook said. “I need to keep improving my shooting, my ballhandling.”
Washington said that he “came a long way as a leader. I had to show my team by example, but also using my voice.”
The dominant play of Cook and Washington has helped mask some of the team's deficiencies, according to Strickland.
“We need a lot of practice, but when you've got two great players like Mookie and Lamar, I'll tell you what, it makes your job a little easier,” Strickland said. “As far as talent, I think Mookie is the best I ever had. And Lamar is up there as far as one of the better ones, too. The thing I appreciate is they're not only athletes, they both are 3.5 GPA, and really good kids.”
Strickland wouldn't mind seeing them stick around for a while.
“There's still a chance. I mean, they're still here right now,” Strickland said with a smile. “Like I tell them, they can get some mention right now, but you can't get a lot of mention because you've got to get some accolades. You've got to get a title, you've got to get the player of the year.”