MILL CREEK — Offense was hard to come by in Wednesday night’s district tournament opener for the Snohomish and Jackson girls basketball teams.
With both teams playing stifling defense throughout, Snohomish was able to break through in the closing minutes, defeating the Timberwolves 39-34 in a 4A District 1 first-round game at Jackson High School.
“I was just waiting for a team to make a run and hoping it’d be us,” Snohomish head coach Ken Roberts said. “I think until we got an eight-point lead at the end, nobody got higher than a four-point lead. I think both teams played really well on defense.”
The Panthers and Jackson both struggled to make baskets early in the game — which began two minutes early at 6:58. The Timberwolves held a slim 15-14 lead at halftime, before Snohomish took the lead in the third quarter, outscoring Jackson 11-6.
“Both teams played hard all game,” Roberts said. “It was just a fun district basketball game.”
Snohomish (14-7 overall) took its largest lead of the game — eight points — midway through the fourth quarter, but Jackson continued to push the Panthers till the end. Faithaleen Lopez-Flores had a couple late baskets and Sierra Anderson added a pair of free throws for the Timberwolves but they just couldn’t erase the deficit.
“It’s hard to dig yourselves out of a hole when you’re down by eight in a game like that,” said Jeannie Boyer, Jackson’s head coach. “It’s hard to come back. I just think both teams were playing awesome defense. There were no clean looks. Everyone had to battle for shots.”
Boyer was coaching against a familiar face. Her husband, Joel Boyer, is an assistant coach for Snohomish. She said it wasn’t awkward for the Boyers to be a house divided for a night. In fact, she was happy to spend some time together.
“We talk basketball all year. It’s a bigger deal for everyone else,” Jeannie Boyer said. “It’s just another game for us. It was nice. I got to see him tonight. Usually he’s out somewhere else. We’re happy that one of us got to advance.”
Sophomore Ellie Otteson had a game-high 11 points for Snohomish — including three 3-pointers.
“They play so well as a team,” Boyer said. “They had kids step up at the right times and hit shots.”
The Panthers also got a strong performance from forward Madeline Smith. The 6-foot-1 freshman nearly had a double-double with nine points and 13 rebounds and also blocked four shots in her first-career high school playoff game.
“Madeline Smith had a big game,” Roberts said. “That’s huge for a freshman. She’s going to get stronger.”
The game mirrored the two teams’ first contest on Jan. 7 with one big exception — the winning team. The first meeting between Jackson and Snohomish was also a close battle, with Jackson (12-9) coming out on top 49-45.
Roberts said that he thought the two teams matched up pretty well, aside from one exception.
“You’ve got to play who you play, whether it’s a good or bad matchup,” Roberts said. “Anytime you have Sierra Hagans on an opposing team it’s going to be a bad matchup.”
Hagans had 10 points, four rebounds and three blocked shots to lead Jackson. One of two seniors on the Timberwolves’ squad, Hagans was a perfect 8-for-8 from the free-throw line which helped keep the Timberwolves close throughout.
Lopez-Flores also scored 10 points and Anna Johnson added eight points and eight rebounds.
“Faithaleen Lopez-Flores can shoot the ball,” Roberts said. “We didn’t give her many looks but she made them.”
With the upset, Snohomish — the North No. 3 seed in the district tournament — will face Arlington, 49-35 winners over Kamiak Wednesday night, at 8 p.m. Saturday at Mountlake Terrace High School. Jackson, the South No. 2 seed, will host Kamiak in a loser-out game Saturday at 2 p.m. (The Timberwolves play in the afternoon because the 3A boys semifinal games are at Jackson High School Saturday evening.)
Roberts said that the opening game helped his young team “understand the intensity” of the playoffs. The Panthers, like Jackson, only have two seniors on their team.
“We’re excited where we’re at,” Roberts said. “The kids played hard and were having fun. The kids gave a lot of effort and it paid off tonight.”
At Jackson H.S.
Snohomish–Morgan Green 7, Ellie Otteson 11, Hannah Berntson 8, Shaylee Hardwood 2, Kayla Lachapelle 0, Madeline Smith 9, Paige Helms 0, Bailey Armbruster 2. Jackson–Brooke Kingma 0, Faithaleen Lopez-Flores 10, Sierra Anderson 4, Imari Clinton 0, Sierra Hagans 10, Rachel Nies 2, Anna Johnson 8, Martina Mason 0, Drew Lochnane 0. 3-point goals–Otteson 3, Lopez-Flores 2. Records–Snohomish 14-7 overall. Jackson 12-9.