EVERETT — Zack Johnson picked the perfect time to put together a clutch performance.
The Stanwood sophomore scored a season-high 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in leading the Spartans to a 70-65 overtime upset of Mariner in a 4A District 1 game at Mariner High School’s “Tank.”
“It was an all-star performance by an all-star kid,” Stanwood head coach Zach Ward said.
With the victory, the Wesco North No. 3 seeded Stanwood (12-9 overall) moved into a winner-to-state game against Snohomish at 6 p.m. Saturday at Jackson High School. Mariner, the South No. 2 seed, faces Kamiak at noon Saturday at Jackson High School in a loser-out game.
Wednesday’s game gave every indication that playoff basketball was here, and Ward and Johnson agreed that there was definitely a playoff atmosphere inside the gym known as the “Tank.”
“It was really intense,” Johnson said, “I love those games, those are the best games.”
Stanwood brought a strong showing to counter Mariner’s faithful, and Ward believes the Spartan crowd helped Stanwood.
“Our fan support helps our guys out there, it’s awesome,” Ward said.
Johnson scored eight points in the third quarter as Stanwood outscored Mariner 17-10 to take its first lead in the game. The left-handed shooter closed out the quarter with a lay-in that put the Spartans up 40-39.
Johnson, whose previous season-high was 25 points, scored seven in an intense fourth quarter that saw the Spartans lead for all but the last seven seconds. Mariner big man Damascus Purnell’s lay-in with 6.7 seconds remaining knotted the score at 50-50 sending the game into overtime.
In the extra period, Stanwood sank nine of 10 free throws — five by Johnson — and outscored Mariner 13-8 to upset the Marauders.
“You get nervous but you got to believe in yourself and believe in your team,” Johnson said about his overtime free throws.
Stanwood guard Peter Edlund scored five of his nine points in the overtime and the Spartans had three others score in double-digits.
“I told them after the game it was a team effort,” Ward said. “We got some loose balls, we got some rebounds, guys were diving on the floor — it’s the little things that add up.”
Mariner jumped out to a 29-23 halftime behind the strength of its jump shooters Tevin and Joey Dillon.
The brothers combined for 15 first-half points as Stanwood struggled to get out on the shooters while playing in the 2-3 zone.
Ward switched things up defensively in the second half saying that, “the main emphasis at halftime was to make them put the ball on the floor. I felt like they hurt us jump shooting in the first half.”
“We knew that our plays were working, we just needed to get the ball up court, get the ball inside and then work it outside,” Johnson said.
Kyle Klempel had 11 points for Stanwood and Mike Lawrence and Kale Schmidt added 10 each for the Spartans.
Mariner (15-6) was trying to advance to its second consecutive 4A District 1 winner-to-state game. The Marauders qualified for the 4A state tournament last season by finishing second in the 4A District 1 tournament.
Mariner was led by Tevin Dillon’s 17 points and Purnell’s 15.
Stanwood meanwhile is trying to reach its first state tournament since 2002 when the Spartans placed sixth
At Mariner H.S.
Stanwood — Edlund 9, Johnson 27, Klempel 10, Lawrence 10, Orcutt 3, Schmidt 11, Williams, Zipp, Zweber. Mariner — Bastys 2, Chhann 8, Doerscher 1, J. Dillon 14, Malysheff, Minor 8, Purnell 15, T. Dillon 17. 3-point goals — Schmidt 2, J. Dillon 3, Minor 1, T. Dillon 1, Edlund 1, Klempel 1. Records — Stanwood 12-9 overall. Mariner 16-5.