By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
STANWOOD — In the early minutes it was Sydney Taggart leading the way for the Everett girls basketball team. Taggart dropped in 11 first-quarter points as the visiting Seagulls jumped to a 24-9 lead against Stanwood on Tuesday night.
At that point the team’s other Sidney took over.
Everett senior Sidney Rielly scored 32 points in the final three quarters and finished with a career-high 38 points for the game as the Seagulls clinched at least a share of the Western Conference 3A North championship with a convincing 72-61 victory. The victory secured the No. 1 seed in the Wesco 3A North district tournament for Everett.
Rielly, a 6-foot senior guard, was 15-for-25 from the field, including 2-for-4 from the free throw line, and added six free throws to top her previous career best of 33 points against Glacier Peak earlier this season. Rielly, who will play next season at Santa Clara University, had a chance at 40 points, but a field goal try from the key kicked off the rim with a little over two minutes to play. She left the game moments later.
“Sidney really played within herself tonight,” said Everett coach John Low. “She didn’t try to force things. She took what they were giving her … and she found different ways to score.”
Rielly might well have reached 40 points had she not left the game for three minutes midway through the fourth quarter. She was fouled on a drive to the basket and fell against a door jam under the basket, bruising her back.
As it was, Rielly scored 12 of her team’s 18 points in the second quarter, all of her team’s 12 points in the third, and the first six of her team’s points in the fourth.
“She attacked the basket, she scored coming off screens and she scored in transition,” Low said. “I think that’s where she’s really gotten better as the season’s progressed and teams have really tried to lock down on her. She’s been finding other ways to get open.”
Everett took command in the game’s early moments, sinking four of its first five shots from the field and seizing a quick 8-0 lead. Stanwood trimmed the deficit to 11-7, but the Seagulls then closed the period with a 13-2 burst to lead by 15 points.
At Stanwood a year ago, Everett fell behind by a large first-quarter margin and for the rest of the game “we were the ones fighting and clawing to get back in it,” Low said. “So we talked tonight about having a good start to the game. And I thought we came out great.”
The Spartans closed within nine points late in the second quarter, but Everett ran off eight unanswered points in the final minute for a 42-25 margin at halftime.
The Seagulls had a pair of 22-point leads midway through the final period, and were on top by 21 points with two minutes remaining. But Stanwood closed the game with an 11-1 burst — nine of those points were scored by senior guard Samantha Powell — to trim the final deficit to 11 points.
Taggart finished with 14 points for Everett, while teammate Amber Hagar added 10 rebounds. Powell was high for the Spartans with 16 points, with sophomore guard Haley Strowbridge adding 11 and senior guard Jillian Jacobs chipping in 10.
Everett will close its regular season on Thursday night against Marysville Pilchuck and it will be the first game in the school’s newly renovated gymnasium. With a victory over the Tomahawks, the Seagulls will clinch the league title outright. Even with a loss and a Stanwood win later this week, Everett will still be Wesco North No. 1 by virtue of two wins over the Spartans this season.
“This year our first goal was to win the Wesco North,” Low said. “And now that we’ve accomplished that, we’ll start talking about the next goal.”
That goal, Rielly said, is a trip to the state tournament. The Seagulls advanced through the district tournament a year ago, but then lost to Mercer Island in the regional round.
Playing at the Tacoma Dome “has been our goal the last two years,” she said. “And it was my goal coming in as a freshman to play at state at least by my senior year.”
At Stanwood H.S.
Everett 24 18 12 18 — 72
Stanwood 9 16 14 22 — 61
Everett—Megan Dedrick 0, Caroline Overstreet 2, Sydney Taggart 14, Darian Rielly 4, Sidney Rielly 38, Tenika Wentworth 7, Julie Ramirez 0, Amber Hagar 7, Katy Hedington 0. Stanwood—Sierra Palmer 4, Julia Heichel 5, Samantha Powell 16, Haley Strowbridge 11, Jillian Jacobs 10, Janea Taylor 6, Ashley Bierer 0, Tristan Murphy 9. 3-point goals—Caroline Overstreet 1, Sidney Rielly 2, Haley Strowbridge 3, Jillian Jacobs 1. Records—Everett is 8-4 in league, 12-7 overall. Stanwood is 7-5, 10-9.