By David Krueger Herald Writer
STANWOOD — There’s an old saying: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
The Snohomish Panthers boys basketball team had the will, and, come the second half, they finally found a way.
The Panthers, ranked No. 4 in the state in the Class 4A Tacoma News Tribune boys basketball poll, got off to a slow start. But thanks to some impressive late shooting, particularly by star guard Luke Hamlin, Snohomish was able to come from behind and defeat the Stanwood Spartans 65-54 Tuesday night at Stanwood High School.
The Panthers trailed for all but five minutes in the first three quarters, and when they weren’t tied their biggest lead was three, right at the end of the third quarter.
“We wanted to contest threes and make them put the ball on the floor,” said Stanwood head coach Zach Ward. “We did an okay job in the first half.”
But in the second half Snohomish outscored the Spartans 39-27, and began making baskets it had missed in the first half. Meanwhile, Stanwood missed baskets it had previously made.
Hamlin was a good example, scoring seven points in the first half, all in the second quarter. In the second half he had 19 points, finishing with a game-high 26.
“We don’t expect that, but we like it,” said Panthers head coach Len Bone.
Bone said that in the second half the Panthers were able to combat the defense of Stanwood more effectively, as the Spartans switched back and forth between a 2-3 zone and man-to-man coverage.
“We moved the ball better,” said Bone, “and got some openings.”
Gabe Reichenberger contributed 12 points — making a 3-pointer in each quarter – and Russell Crippen also scored 12 points for the Panthers. Mitchell Stewart (six rebounds), Crippen (five) and Hamlin (five) all helped Snohomish outrebound Stanwood 18-10 in the second half.
Stanwood got off to a 7-0 lead to start the game, and led for all but four minutes until the end of the third quarter. Cannen Roberson had eight of his 15 points in the first quarter for the Spartans. By the end of the second quarter the Panthers had cut the lead to one, 27-26, going into halftime.
Then the Panthers came out firing.
After halftime Roberson and Hamlin had the first five points for their respective teams. Snohomish took its first lead of the game two minutes into the quarter, 33-32. That lasted about four minutes before the Spartans came roaring back thanks to senior Brennan Williams, who finished the game with 14 points.
But it was only a matter of time before Hamlin, who averages nearly 24 points per game, started draining shots.
“I take what they give me,” Hamlin said. “My teammates get me open.”
Hamlin scored nine points in the third quarter and 10 in the fourth to seal the victory for the Panthers.
“I thought we did a good job of keeping track of him in the first half,” said Ward.
Stanwood shot 39 percent (22-of-57) from the field. Drew Sears provided a spark off the bench with nine points and four rebounds. Roberson and Williams each grabbed five rebounds apiece as well.
The game was the end of the first trip through the Wesco North for both teams. The Panthers finished a perfect 5-0 in league, and are now 8-0 overall. They know that with that record — and the No. 4 ranking — teams are going to be gunning for them every night.
“We gotta play tough,” Hamlin said. “We know that now that we’re ranked as high as we are, teams are gonna play tough.”
In the Stanwood locker room, Ward said that his team wasn’t focused on Snohomish’s ranking, just the fact that “they’re ahead of us in the standings.” With the loss, the Spartans finish their first run through the conference at 3-2 and have a 4-3 overall record.
“It’s not the end of the year,” Ward said. “It’s three-and-two the first time through the North. The bulk of our season is in January. Our goal is to be playing our best basketball in January and we got a lot of work to do to get there.”
At Stanwood H.S.
Snohomish—Yates 8, Hamlin 26, Stewart 6, Crippen 12, Baird 0, Carlson 0, Reichenberger 12, Harris 0, Caldwell 1. Stanwood—M. Garcea 0, Thayer 5, Roberson 15, Stang 4, Zipp 0, B. Garcea 1, Swenson 6, Williams 14, Sears 9. 3-point goals—Reichenberger 4, Yates 2, Hamlin 1, Crippen 1, Williams 2, Thayer 1, Roberson 1. Records—Snohomish 5-0 league, 8-0 overall. Stanwood 3-2, 4-3.