SNOHOMISH — Glacier Peak boys basketball coach Brian Hunter laughed when told his team was setting a dangerous precedent. In just three years of existence, the Grizzlies have already qualified for the state tournament twice.
In 2010, Glacier Peak took fourth place and now it will get a
chance to better that after the Grizzlies won a hard-fought Class 3A Northwest District semifinal 53-44 over Meadowdale Saturday at Glacier Peak High School to clinch a spot in the Class 3A state regional tournament.
The Grizzlies (20-2) advance to play Mount Vernon for the district title on Saturday at Mountlake Terrace High School. Meadowdale (11-11) plays host to Shorewood in a loser-out game Wednesday.
“As coaches, we know it’s not supposed to happen like this,” Hunter said. “It’s a tribute to the quality of kids we have here but it takes a number of things to come together for this to happen. We understand that it’s not a given that you get to state every year. This group of players just decided they were going to do what they had to do.”
What they had to do against Meadowdale was win a gritty, physical game that saw hard charges, big falls and even a fair amount of bloodshed. In the end, the Grizzlies went 9-for-10 from the foul line in the fourth quarter and held Meadowdale scoreless for 41/2 minutes down the stretch to pull out the win.
No one exemplified Glacier Peak’s toughness Saturday more than senior guard Tanner Southard. Southard badly rolled his right ankle in pre-game warm-ups but simply taped it up and scored eight of his 13 points in the first quarter, then buried a huge 3-pointer in the fourth.
“It hurt bad but once we got to the third quarter I hardly felt it,” Southard said. “I’m not the kind of kid who is going to sit out big games.”
“I just thought he’s the right kid for that to happen to,” Hunter said. “I knew it had to be a really, really serious injury for him to miss the game. I figured once the game got going, the adrenaline would kick in, and I think it did.”
Glacier Peak led by as many as 8 early on before Meadowdale began to have success running back-door cuts and continually got to the basket inside, eventually taking a lead, though for most of the second quarter on the margin was never greater than 2.
Meadowdale led 41-38 with five minutes to play after a Torin Dooley 3-pointer on the junior guard’s first touch since he had to leave the game after taking an elbow that opened up a big cut over his left eye. But that would prove to be the Mavericks’ last points until Dooley made another 3-pointer with 23 seconds to go. By then, Glacier Peak led by 10, sparked by a Southard 3-pointer with a man in his face from the right wing that made it 47-41. The Grizzlies went 6-for-6 from the line in the final 42 seconds to clinch the win.
“You can see why Meadowdale is so good,” Hunter said. “They run their offense like every other team wishes they could. We tried to take away some of the things they do well, like run the back-door screen and some plays where they get the ball off a screen.”
Zach Pederson scored 12 points and Dylan Vargas scored 11 for Glacier Peak, which also got an energetic performance from senior reserve Willie Harris, who used his 6-foot-6 frame to help take away some of Meadowdale’s inside advantage.
“We don’t win the game without Willie Harris,” Hunter said. “His hustle plays and being active were huge for us.”
Dooley scored 19 points and Tyce Tallman scored 14 for Meadowdale.
While Hunter may know that getting to state is no sure thing, Southard said he fully expected Glacier Peak would make it to state regularly.
“Some of the guys on this team, we’ve played together our whole life,” he said. “There’s really, really good chemistry on this team. We’ve won a lot of games together so I think we all felt we’d win here too.”
Glacier Peak 53, Meadowdale 44
Meadowdale 11 12 11 10 — 44
Glacier Peak 19 6 9 19 — 53
Meadowdale: Linton 0, Tallman 14, Hennessey 2, Dooley 19, A. Feldhaus 1, Buck 8, Hong 0, B. Feldhaus 0. Glacier Peak: Williams 2, Vargas 11, Southard 13, Impola 0, Harrison 4, Harris 4, Pederson 12, Bonner 7. 3-point goals: Dooley 4, Southard 2, Vargas 1, Bonner 1. Records: Meadowdale 11-11. Glacier Peak 20-2.
At Glacier Peak H.S.
Meadowdale 0 0 0 0 — 0
Glacier Peak 0 0 0 0 — 0
Meadowdale—Mahler, Linton, Hirsch, Over, Tallman, Hennessey, Dooley, A. Feldhaus, Buck, Hong, B. Feldhaus. Glacier Peak—Schaub, Williams, Vargas, Southard, Impola, Davelaar, Harrison, Harris, Pederson, Bonner, Pervier. 3-point goals—xxx. Records—Meadowdale x-x overall. Glacier Peak x-x.