But the Grizzlies couldn't keep Thayer scoreless for long. The senior had a game-high 18 points for Stanwood during the final three quarters as the Spartans, ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press prep poll, defeated Glacier Peak 68-49 in a Wesco 3A game at Glacier Peak High School.
The Grizzlies' defense might have kept Thayer scoreless in the opening period, but not the rest of the Spartans. Stanwood scored the game's first 12 points and had an eight-point lead at the end of the quarter.
Then Thayer took over. The Spartans' point guard had nine points in the second quarter to help Stanwood double Glacier Peak's point total, 36-18, at halftime.
"They obviously were trying to fully deny him. He did a super job of just letting the game come to him," Stanwood head coach Zach Ward said. "We knew that was going to happen, we knew they were going to emphasize taking him out of the game, but that freed up some other guys because of mismatches.
"And Josh is a super kid. He didn't get bent out of shape or anything. He just did his normal thing and let the game come to him."
Stanwood continued to pile on its lead, and led by as many as 25 points. Four Spartans scored in double figures, including Thayer, Ian Zipp (12 points), Drew Stang (12) and Skout Roberson (10).
"I think that's one of our strengths is our balance," Ward said. "We've got different guys that can score. We've got balance. I think we have four guys averaging double figures (in scoring) and another guy with eight or nine. Obviously if a guy's hot we try to feed him, but that's something we're going to hang our hat on, that different guys can score."
Zipp and Stang each had six points in the opening quarter that saw Stanwood set the tone early. The Spartans combated Glacier Peak's pressure by finding open players who were consistently able to make shots.
That big lead took some of the pressure off Stanwood and was exactly what Ward had hoped for.
"I think it was really big. You come into an environment like this – against a good team in their house – (it) couldn't get much better than that," Ward said. "That was our game plan, not necessarily to go on a 12-0 run, but to do the things we're able to do offensively and we did those."
Roberson, Stang and Drew Wright had six rebounds apiece for the Spartans (6-0 league, 13-0 overall), which remained undefeated with the victory. Thayer also had what Ward called a "special effort" on defense in the second half, with the guard grabbing five steals.
Both teams applied strong defensive pressure in the first half, with Stanwood being more successful in its effort. The Grizzlies turned the ball over five times in the first half, which contributed to their early deficit.
Brady Southard led Glacier Peak (4-2, 10-4) with 11 points and nine rebounds, Trey Chambers scored 10 points and Chris Watkins came off the bench to contribute nine points and a pair of rebounds.
Ward said he knew Grizzlies' head coach Brian Hunter would have his team gunning for Stanwood, the defending 3A District 1 champions.
"Brian's a great coach. I knew that they would be prepared," Ward said. "We've got a little bit of a target on our back with everybody that we play this year. I knew that Brian would have his guys ready to roll."
The Stanwood and Glacier Peak coaches have known each other for years. Both were assistant coaches at Stanwood under Nate DuChesne. Hunter took over when DuChesne, now the athletic director at Mariner, left and Ward remained as an assistant coach.
Ward then replaced Hunter after two years when Glacier Peak opened and Hunter became the first-ever Grizzlies' boys basketball coach.
The pair have remained friends and continue to talk basketball.
"We've been friends for 15 years," Ward said. "He's a guy I bounce a lot of ideas of off. I look up to him."
The friendship also means both coaches want to be victorious when they find themselves going up against each other on the court.
"Even though we have a great friendship, we both want to beat each other," Ward said. "But it's really cool to be able to talk to him after the game and exchange ideas. I knew they'd be ready. I can't say that enough. Look at what they did to Josh. They came out and said, 'We're going to deny Josh the ball and see what you can do.' I think we did pretty good."
At Glacier Peak H.S.
Stanwood 15 21 20 12 — 68
Glacier Peak 7 11 14 17 — 49
Stanwood–AJ Martinka 0, Ian Zipp 12, Anthony Engelhart 0, Josh Thayer 18, Drew Wright 2, Brady Garcea 5, Derek Ross 5, Karsten Chaplik 4, Drew Stang 12, Skout Roberson 10. Glacier Peak–Ty Deckwa 0, Bobby Brooks 6, Ty Kjellesvik 7, Chris Watkins 9, Brady Southard 11, Nick Allan 3, Grant Peltier 0, Luke Neill 3, Justin Guffey 0, Trey Chambers 10. 3-point goals–Zipp 4, Thayer 3, Garcea 1, Watkins 1, Chambers 1. Records–Stanwood 6-0 league, 13-0 overall. Glacier Peak 4-2, 10-4.
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