By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
SNOHOMISH — For any basketball team the goal is to make the postseason — and hopefully be playing its best basketball when it gets there.
If Wednesday’s 70-47 victory over Cascade in the boys 4A district 1 tournament opener is any indication, the Snohomish Panthers are on the right track.
As good as the Panthers were, they will have to be even better on Saturday. Their victory earned them a semifinal meeting with Jackson, ranked No. 2 in the state in the most recent Associated Press poll.
“Saturday will be a good test to see if we are making progress at the offensive end and on the defensive end,” Snohomish head coach Len Bone said, noting that Jackson plays “play great (defense) and we’re going to have to earn good shots.”
The winner of Saturday’s game advances to the state-regional round and earns a spot in next weekend’s district championship game.
The Bruins and Panthers had met once in mid-January with the Bruins winning 42-39. Wednesday’s game couldn’t have been more different. After a competitive first four minutes, Snohomish took over.
“We didn’t shoot well the first time we played them,” Bone said. “We just played with more confidence. We got ahead and it’s nice to see the ball go in because the guys aren’t afraid to shoot as the game goes on.”
Josh Baird and Tanner Arrington exhibited that confidence throughout the evening. Arrington scored 18 points to lead all scorers and Baird chipped in 16. Both players made three 3s in the first half and Arrington finished with four from the outside.
“We do a pretty good job of rotating the ball and getting people open,” Baird said.
Baird and Arrington had 6-foot-7 junior Collin Kane to thank for a lot of their open shots. Kane finished with 14 points and was unguardable for the Bruins for most of the evening. When the Bruins’ defense collapsed on Kane, it left Baird, Arrington and others open from the perimeter.
“He’s comfortable inside,” Bone said of Kane. “He’d rather be outside shooting perimeter shots, but he’s pretty effective inside. He’s our best inside scorer. He’s a good free-throw shooter if he gets fouled, so we try to get it to him.”
The game was competitive for most of the opening period. The two teams were tied at 13 with two minutes remaining in the opening quarter, but the Panthers closed on an 11-3 run to take a 24-16 lead. The margin continued to grow in the second and third quarters.
“Coach Bone preached defense all week,” Arrington said. “I think we came out with the mindset that we’re going to stop them and I think that carried over into our offense.”
That same mindset will be needed again on Saturday if they Panthers are to have a chance against the Timberwolves. Jackson won the regular season’s only meeting of the two teams 82-45.
“We’re just going to take it as any other game,” Arrington said. “It’s Jackson, they’re good. They’re not unbeatable. They’ve been beat. We just have to keep playing our game. Keep playing defense and keep hitting our shots like we did tonight and will be fine.”
Arrington is right, the Timberwolves have been beat — once.
Jackson’s lone loss of the season came at the hands of Lincoln, 62-55. The Abes are no slouch, finishing the regular season as the AP’s No. 3 ranked 3A team in the state.
The Timberwolves only other loss the past two seasons came to Curtis in last year’s 4A state championship game.
“They’re good and we know they’re good,” Bone said of the Timberwolves. “They’re excited about where they’re headed and we’re just another step in that progression of where they want to be. They’re not going to overlook anybody. They come to play. It’ll be fun since we made some progress since the first time we played them.
“It’s not going to be easy on Saturday.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Snohomish H.S.
Cascade 16 12 8 11 — 47
Snohomish 24 17 18 11 — 70
Cascade–Trevon Blackmon 2, Cameron Cook 3, Brevin Brown 6, Edis Hrustic 0, Cameron McGrath 7, Michael Gbagonah 8, Nick Benenati 4, Isaiah Gotell 9, Brennen Hancock 4, Justin Gordon 4, Tre, Poole 0, Patrick Johnson 0. Snohomish–Steele Morgan 6, Josh Baird 16, Jacob Hamlin 3, Tanner Jones 2, Andrew Ivelia 0, Josh Shogren 7, Tanner Arrington 18, Ty Carlson 0, Zak Carlson 0, Wyatt Harris 4, Collin Kane 14. 3-point goals–Cook 1, Brown 2, McGrath 1, Baird 3, Arrington 4, Hamlin 1, Shogren 1. Records–Cascade 7-14. Snohomish 12-9.