The Spartans dominated out of the gate in their Class 3A state quarterfinal against Bellevue, but while the first three minutes of Thursday's game couldn't have gone much better, the rest of the first half was a different story.
The second-ranked Spartans jumped to a big lead, but the Wolverines responded with hot shooting that sparked an even bigger run that was too much for Stanwood to overcome, and third-ranked Bellevue rolled to a 61-43 victory at the Tacoma Dome.
"They just started making a lot of shots and we weren't converting very well offensively," Stanwood senior post Drew Stang said. "That just kind of took a toll on us after a while."
Just three minutes into the game, Stanwood led 11-2 behind eight quick points from senior guard Josh Thayer. From that point until late in the second quarter, however, it was all Wolverines. Bellevue outscored Stanwood 16-4 to close out the first quarter, then opened the second quarter on a 10-0 run to build a 13-point lead, scoring frequently off Stanwood's nine first-half turnovers. The Wolverines shot 58.3 percent from the floor in the first half as they built their big advantage, and hit five of seven three-point attempts.
"Shooting 70 percent from three is tough to beat," Thayer said. "They didn't shoot as well in the second half, but the first half kind of killed us."
Contributing to Stanwood's first-half struggles was the fact the Spartans played significant stretches without Stang, their leading scorer, who had 10 first-half points, but also picked up three fouls in the half, the last of which drew a strong objection from the Stanwood bench. With Stang sidelined, Stanwood simply couldn't find a way to crack Bellevue's tough defense.
"It's a game-changer," Stanwood coach Zach Ward said of playing without his 6-foot-8 post. "He's so important to everything we do, and he was having a really good game up to that point. Credit to the guys who stepped in and took his minutes; they did a good job, they're just not Drew, so some of the stuff we run, we weren't able to run it with those guys."
Stanwood (23-2) played Bellevue (23-3) evenly in the third quarter, and on a few occasions cut the lead to single digits, but the Spartans seemed to concede an easy bucket every time they looked like they were ready to get back in the game.
"Nothing was really going our way today," said Thayer, who finished with a game-high 16 points. "It was just one of those games."
Bellevue was led by 14 points from sophomore guard Sharif Khan, but junior guard/forward Zack Moore did the first-half damage, scoring 10 of his 12 points as Bellevue took control in the first two quarters.
Stanwood will try to bounce back in a consolation game against Shadle Park at 10:30 a.m. Friday. Ward said he would give his players a few hours Thursday afternoon to get over their loss before the focus would shift to Shadle Park, which was blown out by top-ranked Rainier Beach.
Thayer said he didn't think his team would need the time allotted by their coach to move past the loss.
"I think we're already pretty much over it," he said. "It's on to the next one. We can still be the best team that's ever come through Stanwood with a fourth-place trophy."
Herald Writer John Boyle: email@example.com.
At Tacoma Dome
Stanwood 15 7 13 8 — 43
Bellevue 18 15 13 15 — 61
Stanwood—AJ Martinka 0, Ian Zipp 7, Anthony Engelhart 2, Josh Thayer 16, Drew Wright 0, Carlton McDonald 0, Brady Garcea 0, Derek Ross 1, Isaac Olson 0, Karsten Chaplik 4, Drew Stang 13, Skout Roberson 0. Bellevue—Gunther Klimes 8, Sharik Khan 14, Zach Moore 12, Kyle Foreman 9, Timmy Haehl 0, Marek Spooner-LeDuff 1, Hunter Cikatz 4, Jack Walton 2, Trent Baker 0, Dylan Foreman 5, Mikey Henn 6. 3-point goals—Thayer 2, Engelhart, Klimes, Moore 2, K. Foreman, D. Foreman. Records—Stanwood 23-2. Bellevue 23-3.
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