BELLEVUE — Glacier Peak boys basketball coach Brian Hunter knew Friday night’s 3A state regional game against Rainier Beach would be the toughest challenge his team has faced this season.
After an 87-51 defeat to the team that has been ranked No. 1 in the state for most of the season, Hunter marveled at how good the Vikings played despite a well-conceived Glacier Peak plan that called for packing it in tight on defense with a 2-1-2 zone and trying to slow down the uber-athletic and deep Vikings.
“You have to decide, are you going to play them and try to match them athlete for athlete or play some zone and see if they can hit some shots?” Hunter said. “Tonight to be honest with you they shot the ball better than I thought they would.”
The Vikings (24-3 overall), who advanced to the state quarterfinals at the Tacoma Dome with the victory, hit five 3s in the first half and finished the game with eight, swinging the ball around the zone and repeatedly finding the open man.
Three times it was Beach’s lone senior contributor Anrio Adams. The 6-foot-3 guard, who will play basketball at Kansas next year, scored 19 points. Adams was eclipsed late in the game for team-high honors by Naim Ladd, who finished with 20. The Vikings had four players in double figures, including juniors Marquis Davis (15) — who Hunter called one of the top five athletes in the state — and Will Dorsey (14).
The game opened with Davis draining a 3 from the top of the key followed a few possessions later by an Adams’ steal and reverse dunk. Then Dorsey got a steal and made the game 7-0 just over 2 minutes in.
Glacier Peak’s Zach Pederson missed his first three shots and it looked like the Grizzlies might get run out of the gym initially. But Pederson heated up and the Grizzlies tied it at 7-7 on a putback by the 6-foot-6 post. GP kept it relatively close in the first half, but still trailed 40-24 at the break. A 10-1 run to start the second half all but ended the game.
Though most of the Grizzlies had tough time in their final game of the season, Pederson shined despite being guarded by the bigger Beach frontline.
“I realized I can score against taller guys,” Pederson said. “I’m a smaller post. They had like four guys taller than me … Rainier is a really, really good team. It’s just an honor to play my last game against them of the year.”
The Grizzlies junior scored 25 points and carried the load for the team in nearly every way, including taking the ball up the floor against the Vikings virtually non-stop full-court press.
“He’s willing to do everything,” Hunter said. “He was tough for them to guard in that situation. He’s a good ballhandler and makes good decisions.”
Pederson also caught the eye of long-time Beach coach Mike Bethea.
“He’s a scorer,” Bethea said. “The kid knows how to put the ball in the hole. Let me just put it like that, a good player. I was really impressed with him.”
In previous games Pederson, who averages more than 21 points per game, has relied heavily on his hook shot. But the Vikings wouldn’t let him get in close enough to use his deadly special shot often. That didn’t keep him from making his mark.
“He’s not just a one-shot player,” Hunter said. “That’s one thing that’s maybe a misnomer; Zach has a hook shot. I hope, if nothing else, tonight’s game showed he is more than that.”
Despite the loss, it is still a third-straight trip to the state tournament for Glacier Peak in just its fourth year of existence. Five seniors played their final game Friday after starting their careers on the inaugural GP freshman team in 2007-2008. Hunter especially recognized captains Austin Tarvin and Jacob Davelaar.
“Austin doesn’t get any notoriety, but he probably screened for Zach 200 times this year, if not more, for Zach to get open looks,” Hunter said. “All of our seniors were just great teammates.”
Despite a 26-point loss, the Grizzlies that return next year absorbed a valuable experience against at team Hunter expects to win the 3A tournament.
“You learn what the intensity level is from the beginning to the end,” Hunter said. “The quickness level, you can’t learn unless you experience it, so that’s why tonight was so great.”
Jon Saperstein covers high school sports for The Herald, follow him on twitter @jonsap and contact him at email@example.com.
At Bellevue College
Glacier Peak—Schaub 0, Tarvin 6, Klop 0, Vader 3, Rosales 0, Kiser 1, Preece 4, Chambers 0, Wampler 1, Pederson 25, Pohrman 5, Davelaar 6. Rainier Beach—Piper 6, Miller 3, Ladd 20, Dorsey 14, Fuller 0, Foster 6, Davis 15, Adams 19, King 4, Maxie 0, Niles 0, Pili 0. 3-point goals—Adams 3, Davis 3, Ladd 2, Pohrman 1, Tarvin 2. Records—Glacier Peak 17-8. Rainier Beach 24-3.