It all starts with a song.
Once the Bothell High boys basketball squad breaks into “We Ready” before games in the locker room, head coach Ron Bollinger knows the Cougars are set for the night. Raising their voices as one gets them pumped up for some action, senior guard Da’Vicious Wilson said.
“The main thing is that they’re doing it together and they’re having fun doing it in their preparation,” Bollinger said. “And so, that makes me feel good that, OK, these guys are together, and they’re gonna go on the floor and battle together.”
Bollinger laughed when asked if he joins in on some harmonies.
“No, I don’t even get to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ at my house. I have to lip-synch, I’m such a bad singer,” he said. “I leave that to them.”
The Cougars have been thriving on the court as well, sporting a 4A KingCo-leading 9-1 record and 12-2 overall mark at press time.
In recent games, Bothell cranked out wins over Issaquah, North Creek and Eastlake.
Senior guard Cameron Tyson amassed 34 points — including six 3-pointers — in Bothell’s 86-62 win over North Creek. Senior post Jake Medjo had 22 points and Wilson added 14 points.
It was comeback time against Eastlake, which rolled to a 41-32 halftime lead. Bothell tied the score at 50-50 after three quarters and turned up the scoring fire to pull away in the fourth with a 76-66 victory. Tyson was hot again with 32 points and six treys and Medjo tallied 18 points and eight boards.
In an 80-60 triumph over Issaquah, Tyson tallied a team-leading 29 points.
“Our athleticism allows us to get control of most of the games, and when we do that, then we’re hard to beat, ‘cause we’re moving up and down the floor quickly and we’re getting tips on defense, we’re getting runouts and things like that,” said Bollinger, noting that Bothell also has experience on its side with the three aforementioned players and fellow seniors Jordan Potts (a 6-foot-4 wing) — who nailed 21 points against Issaquah — and Vikram Gill (a 6-foot-2 wing), and 6-foot-2 juniors Spencer Wright, a wing, and Austin Cartwright, a guard.
Medjo, who stands at 6-8 — Bothell’s tallest player — said the Cougars possess heaps of energy.
“We’ll come out here and we’re getting in the other team’s shorts, just making them flustered and then we’re making the spectacular plays to really ignite the crowd,” he added.
However, Skyline handed Bothell its first league loss, 63-62, last week in a game that featured 29 points from Tyson, who is leading the league with an average of 26 points per game. Medjo is averaging 23 points per game.
Bollinger said the Cougars took that loss hard, and when they watched the film, it showed some of the deficiencies or areas they needed to work on.
“Maybe this loss will be a big win for us, if we can turn that around so that it doesn’t happen again later on when it’s playoff time,” Bollinger said.
Four-year varsity starter Tyson, who stands 6-3, said the keys to his scoring success are his teammates firing passes to him and trusting him to knock down shots.
“I just want to win, that’s the most important thing,” said Tyson, a first-team all-KingCo player the last two years who can also drain 3-pointers with the best of them. “If we make it to state this year, that would be a memorable experience. And hopefully we can win a state championship, something we haven’t done since 1927.”
Tyson — who has some college offers, but hasn’t signed yet — said the team’s got a stellar offense on its hands, but needs to improve its rebounding on defense.
“That will lead to more offense and more opportunities for everybody,” he said.
Added Wilson, who stands 6-3: “We all talked as a unit and we knew that this team was gonna be special.”
A Cougar wide receiver on the football squad, Wilson feels he brings energy and athleticism to the hardcourt just like he did on the gridiron. Matched with outside and inside threats Tyson and Medjo, respectively, Wilson said the Cougars are putting up their highest offensive numbers in recent years.
Speaking of Medjo, he recently signed to play for the University of California Riverside next season, citing the Bothell-like family feel and great coaches that pointed him in the Highlanders’ direction. He’s started for the Cougars for three and a half years and was also a league first-teamer the last two years.
While at Bothell he’s learned how to be a leader and “how to support others when they’re struggling and how to ask for help when you’re struggling,” he said.
Patience is also at the top of his list.
“Every year, we’ve improved and it’s just been the constant grind of just getting better as a team and as a collective unit,” he said.
Tyson, who first picked up a basketball at age 3, has enjoyed being a part of the Bothell squad from the get-go. While watching former Cougar Zach LaVine — who’s currently playing for the Chicago Bulls — and his brother playing the game, Tyson gained the motivation to make an impact himself.
This year’s Bothell team is one he won’t soon forget.
“I feel like our chemistry is way better than in years past. Off the court, we’re always sitting together, (you) always see us together. We’re really like a brotherhood,” he said.
Bollinger said the team is made up of guys with individual personalities who are thrilled to be playing together.
“It’s kind of a funny mix,” he said. “You wouldn’t think that they would get along, but they do. They’re keeping each other in check.”