STANWOOD — One more win.
That’s what stands between the Stanwood Spartans and a coveted trip to the state tournament.
For the third consecutive season, the Stanwood High School boys basketball team has advanced to a winner-to-state game. The latest opportunity came after the Spartans — fueled by super-athletic guard Kale Schmidt’s 20 first-half points — drilled the Arlington Eagles 67-46 Wednesday in a first-round Class 4A District 1 tournament game.
A boisterous crowd of 2,000-plus fans watched Wesco North No. 1 seed Stanwood bump its winning streak to 12 games. After rocketing to an early double-digit lead, Stanwood (15-6) was never seriously threatened by North No. 5 seed Arlington (13-9).
It was Stanwood’s third win versus its longtime rival in three tries this season, although the significance of the first two triumphs obviously didn’t compare to the playoff victory. This one propelled Stanwood to a winner-to-state district semifinal against North No. 3 Cascade (14-7) at 6 p.m. Saturday at Jackson High.
Last week Stanwood thumped Cascade 84-51 in the teams’ final division game. Cascade reached the district semifinal by defeating South No. 2 Mountlake Terrace (11-10) 49-41 on Wednesday.
Stanwood, which has eight seniors who all contribute, seeks its first state-tournament berth since 2002. The Spartans went 0-4 in winner-to-state over the past two seasons. But this might be the year they get it done.
“All of our guys are really excited for every district game because we really want to go to state. We’ve been in these situations before,” said Stanwood senior Zack Johnson, a four-year varsity player who tallied 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists against Arlington.
Schmidt, also a senior, had another highlight-filled night for Stanwood. His stats (24 points, four 3-pointers, eight rebounds) tell part of the story but he made an impact with subtle contributions too, like defensive hustle and constant energy.
After dunking twice against Cascade last week on Stanwood senior night, Schmidt got another poster-worthy slam against Arlington. Midway through the third quarter he stole the ball, zipped to the other end and threw down a stunningly powerful left-handed dunk. It gave Stanwood a 44-28 edge and electrified Spartan rooters.
“We call him a track star on the basketball court,” Johnson said of Schmidt, a University of Washington track and field recruit. “He’s an amazing basketball player (and) sometimes the things he does or how fast he goes or how he elevates is just amazing.”
In the first half, the difference was Stanwood’s explosive start. The Spartans erupted for 19 points in the first 4 minutes, 9 seconds and built an 11-point lead. Arlington cut the deficit to single digits for a while but Stanwood maintained control and had a 38-21 advantage by halftime.
Schmidt scored 10 points, including two 3s from the left side, before 4 minutes elapsed in the first quarter.
Stanwood senior guard Drew Haugstad (13 points) drained a 3 from the right wing just as the second quarter ended. Austin Cook, also a senior guard, had the assist.
Compared to Stanwood, Arlington is a young team. The Eagles have just one senior starter. Junior Eric Carlson led them with 14 points.
Stanwood “came out ready and hungry. They came out like seniors and we didn’t,” said Arlington coach Nick Brown, whose team will play Mountlake Terrace in a loser-out consolation game at noon Saturday at Jackson High School.
Later that evening Stanwood will try to snare its long-awaited ticket to state.
“I don’t think the approach is any different (than in past seasons but) I think our preparation is different,” Stanwood coach Zach Ward said, “in terms of understanding the sense of urgency a little bit, understanding that we have eight seniors, understanding that we have big-game experience.
“I’m confident in their abilities.”
At Stanwood H.S.
Arlington—Carlson 14, Cooper 9, Petersen 8, Ginnis 8, Smith 6, Brummel 1, Dawn, Davis, Robertson, Pineda, Ladines, Kurtzenacker. Stanwood—Haugstad 13, Reinecke, Schmidt 24, Johnson 15, McCune 7, Taylor, Jamieson, Cook 6, Schroyer 2, Garcea, Youngren, Harris. 3-point goals—Cooper 3, Ginnis 2, Smith 2, Haugstad 2, Schmidt 4, Cook 1. Records-Arlington 13-9. Stanwood 15-6.
Mike Cane: email@example.com. Check out the prep sports blog Double Team at www.heraldnet.com/doubleteam.