SNOHOMISH — Basketball coaches like for their teams to be peaking at playoff time. It appears that Glacier Peak boys head coach Brian Hunter is getting his wish this season.
The Grizzlies avenged an earlier-season loss to Shorewood with an emphatic 61-35 dismantling of the Thunderbirds on Tuesday night.
The victory keeps Glacier Peak (10-2, 16-3) in the running for the Wesco 3A South regular-season championship. The Grizzlies face first-place Mountlake Terrace on Thursday.
Glacier Peak’s offense is often led by senior Zach Pederson. On Tuesday, Pederson led the Grizzlies again, but in a different way. It was his defense that played the biggest role in Glacier Peak’s win, holding Shorewood’s standout center Josh Hawkinson to 14 points, including just four in the second half.
“That was all Zach,” point guard Dreu Vader said. “Zach shut him down. Zach got it in his mind that he was going to stop him from the very get-go and he went out and did it.”
Shorewood has a group of players around Hawkinson that can shoot the ball well, but the Thunderbirds had trouble converting from the outside against Glacier Peak, making just two 3-pointers in the game.
“It’s hard with him because they have really good shooters around him,” Hunter said. “Our focus was not just on Josh, but we really put it upon Zach to play his best defensive game. That sounds simple, but for us to be able to compete tonight and hold Josh down a little bit, Zach had to be able to do it without some help at times.”
Pederson still managed to score 13 points, but he didn’t have to shoulder the offensive load for the Grizzlies. It was Vader and guard Ramsey Rosales who took on the bulk of the scoring. Vader finished the game with 19 and Rosales had a game-high 21.
“I would say the guys that stepped up for them and played unbelievable was Rosales hitting all those shots and Vader,” Shorewood coach Ben Scheffler said. “Those were two guys that were definitely difference-makers tonight.”
Vader and Rosales set the tone early, combining to score Glacier Peak’s first 13 points. Hunter said the growth of Vader and Rosales has been crucial to his team’s growth throughout the season.
“I think it is much more difficult to game-plan against us now than it was at the beginning of the season,” Hunter said. “I think (Vader and Rosales) are much more confident in their game as well. For Zach, it’s a great feeling for him because he knows he doesn’t have to have tremendous numbers every night.”
Behind Vader and Rosales, the Grizzlies built a 17-8 lead after one quarter. In the second quarter, Rosales kept piling it on, scoring 14 points and making three 3s. At halftime, Glacier Peak nearly had doubled up Shorewood, leading 41-21.
The Thunderbirds buckled down defensively in the second half, but scoring remained a problem. They opened the third quarter on a 7-0 run but it took nearly five minutes of the quarter to get those seven points. By the time the quarter was over, Shorewood had barely made a dent into the Grizzlies’ lead and trailed by 18 going into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter was Vader time. He scored seven points during a 9-0 Glacier Peak run to start the quarter, and that buried the Thunderbirds.
“We just knew what we needed to do to get it done,” Vader said. “We fell short the first time, but we were preparing all week and doing the right things to put us in a position to win.”
Now, the Grizzlies turn their attention toward Mountlake Terrace to try to secure the Wesco South crown before heading into playoffs.
“The Terrace game is fun,” Hunter said. “It’s going to be intense. They are a great team obviously. They are picked to win it for a reason. Hopefully we can just kind of meet the challenges that they are going to bring on Thursday night.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com.
At Glacier Peak H.S.
Shorewood 8 13 10 4 — 35
Glacier Peak 17 24 8 12 — 61
Shorewood—Anxhelos Pere 0, Taylor Freeman 7, Brandon Mar 2, Zane Hopen 3, Karson Gronvold 3, Ben Andrews 5, Zach Rattray 1, Josh Hawkinson 14, Sam Boone 0. Glacier Peak—Ty Kjellesvik 2, Dreu Vader 19, Austin Kiser 4, Ramsey Rosales 21, Zach Pederson 13, Mitchl Pohrman 0, Trey Chambers 1, Ty Deckwa 0, Bobby Brooks 0, Russell Anderson 0, Nick Allan 1, Luke Neill 0. 3-point goals—Hopen 1, Andrews 1, Rosales 4, Pederson 1. Records—Shorewood 9-3 league, 14-5 overall; Glacier Peak 10-2, 16-3.