SHORELINE — The playoffs don’t officially start until next week, but those at Monday’s Glacier Peak-Shorewood girls basketball game got a little sneak preview of the excitement yet to come in the postseason.
In a de-facto Wesco South 3A league title game, Glacier Peak’s defense stymied Shorewood — while the offense came alive in the second half — as the Grizzlies defeated the Thunderbirds 48-42 to clinch at least a share of the league title.
“Both teams knew what we were playing for,” said Nina Lowe, the Shorewood head coach. “It was a playoff-esque atmosphere. … We were looking at it as the Wesco South championship game.”
“We knew that,” Glacier Peak head coach Brian Hill echoed. “That’s what the girls were playing for.”
Glacier Peak (9-3 league, 14-5 overall) took the lead about midway through the third quarter after a Sadie Mensing steal and assist to Sophia Gaffney, who scored on a layup, gave the Grizzlies’ a 25-24 lead. Glacier Peak led the rest of the way, by as much as eight and as little as one.
“They’re a great team. We knew going into the game it would be back and forth,” Hill said. “We pulled it out.”
The Grizzlies used an 11-2 run from the end of the third quarter to the start of the fourth to pull ahead 32-26. Glacier Peak built an eight-point lead before back-to-back 3-pointers from Shorewood’s Masha Shtikel and Angel Tulee cut the Grizzlies’ lead to two.
Thanks to aggressive play on offense, Glacier Peak was shooting bonus free throws with 1:49 left in the game. Half (eight) of the Grizzlies’ 16 fourth-quarter points came from the free throw line, as Glacier Peak was able to put the game away.
“We played good defense,” Lowe said. “We dared certain players on their team to hit shots, and they did.”
Allie Weathersby led Glacier Peak with nine points — seven of which came from the free throw line. Kianna Garner came off the bench to make two big 3-pointers, and finished with eight points.
“I don’t think it was one person for them,” Lowe said. “Several different players hit big shots.”
Grizzlies’ junior post Nicole Fausey also scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds, despite being doubled teamed most of the night by the Shorewood defense. Fausey isn’t exactly a stranger to extra defenders.
“That happens a lot,” Hill said.
The win gave Glacier Peak at least a share of the Wesco 3A league title (Meadowdale can still be co-champions with some help). Both the Grizzlies and Shorewood — which also fell to Glacier Peak 40-36 in the teams’ first meeting on Dec. 18 — had already clinched berths in next week’s 3A district tournament, where Glacier Peak begins work toward its next goal.
“I think the ultimate goal for everybody is to get to state,” Hill said. “There’s 64 teams in 3A and that’s everyone’s goal.”
Glacier Peak’s defense held Shtikel — who is leading the Wesco 3A South with 19.3 points per game — to 10 points. Hill rotated two defenders, Mensing and India Smith, to keep fresh legs guarding the Shorewood senior.
“I told my girl don’t leave her. If she goes out to get popcorn, go with her,” Hill said. “We know what she’s capable of doing.”
On senior night it was the upperclassmen — and one first-year player — who shined for Shorewood (8-4, 13-6). Along with Shtikel, seniors Tulee (nine points and eight rebounds) and Gabby Hagar (four points and four rebounds) helped lead the Thunderbirds.
Freshman Lily Gustafson added a game-high 11 points and six rebounds for Shorewood.
“Collectively, as a whole, our seniors stepped up huge,” Lowe said. “Angel, Masha, Kassie (Rasmussen) and Gabby, all of them, really stepped up their game and were ready to play.”
Lowe used to be a junior varsity coach under current Glacier Peak JV coach Jon Rasmussen when the two were at Shorecrest. They have remained friends, and Lowe admitted that there might have been a bit more strategy in play by the coaches in Monday’s game than usual.
“It’s a bit of a chess match,” Lowe said. “I’m sure we surprised them coming out in a 2-3 zone.”
The 2-3 zone appeared to throw Glacier Peak off at first, with the Grizzlies’ offense struggling to get going in the first two quarters. But after trailing 18-17 at halftime, Glacier Peak came out and nearly doubled its score with 15 points in the third quarter, and outscored the Thunderbirds 31-24 the rest of the way.
“I think in the second half we had a better recognition of their zone,” Hill said. “We were able to recognize what they were doing and adjust.”
At Shorewood H.S.
Glacier Peak 10 7 15 16 — 48
Shorewood 10 8 8 16 — 42
Glacier Peak—Taylor Baird 2, Sadie Mensing 5, Sophia Gaffney 6, Victoria Goudreau 0, India Smith 4, Sarah Smith 2, Sawyer Manning 4, Kianna Garner 8, Nicole Fausey 9, Allie Weathersby 9. Shorewood—Masha Shtikel 10, Trisha Fernandez 0, Lauren Thompson 2, Kayla Bradley 0, Gabby Hager 4, Salyna McDonald 4, Lily Gustafson 11, Kassie Rasmussen 2, Angel Tulee 9. 3-point goals—Manning 1, Garner 2, Shtikel 1, Tulee 1. Records—Glacier Peak 9-3 league, 14-5 overall. Shorewood 8-4, 13-6.