By David Krueger Herald Writer
MILL CREEK — The Shorecrest boys basketball team had won 10 consecutive games going into Friday night’s 3A District 1 Championship.
Stanwood had won 22.
After a back-and-forth game, the Scots needed some late-game heroics by senior Daniel Ghebremichael, who made a 3-pointer in the game’s final minute to put Shorecrest ahead for good in a 63-59 win over the Spartans in the district title game at Jackson High School.
“That was a great game against a great team,” Shorecrest head coach Brian Fischer said. “We felt like we could do it. We felt like we could get a win here and we just challenged the guys to play their game and stay aggressive.”
Stanwood coach Zach Ward declined to comment after his team’s first loss of the season.
Shorecrest’s run began early in the third quarter with Scots guard Benny Ortega making three consecutive 3-pointers that gave Shorecrest a 33-29 lead. The Scots and Stanwood battled to a 41-41 tie heading into the fourth quarter, where the lead continued to exchange hands.
The two teams swapped 3-pointers in the early minutes of the quarter, with Stanwood building up a small lead.
Then Ghebremichael made a 3-pointer to break a tie and give Shorecrest a 61-58 advantage with the clock winding down. He added a pair of free throws in the game’s final seconds to seal the victory.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Shorecrest senior Zach Lawson, who had seven points. “We’ve been working hard together this whole year. We love each other so much and to come out and get a win against such a good team feels incredible.”
Ghebremichael led the Scots with 15 points and seven rebounds. Ortega finished the game with 13 points and Alex Hofstrand and Masamba Njadoe added 10 points apiece for Shorecrest (17-6 overall), which hasn’t lost since falling to Stanwood in the regular season on Jan. 10.
“All the guys were making plays all game,” Fischer said. “Benny came out and had an outstanding game. He got us going. Zach hit some shots. I’ve got to give credit to Masamba and Hofstrand for just playing so well on the inside. Those guys just had a great game. You can’t forget Conin (Oishi) who just kind of runs our show out there and gets the ball in the right hands. Just, everybody.
“That’s the way it’s been for us all season. Everybody contributes. It’s a really fun team to coach.”
Both teams already had secured berths in the regional round of the state tournament coming into Friday night’s game. As the district champion, Shorecrest will face the District 2 No. 4 seed, arguably a tougher opponent than Stanwood, which will take on the District 3/4 No. 3 seed next weekend for a spot in the state championship at the Tacoma Dome.
“We were kind of worried; we heard if you get second place in this game you might be playing a worse team (in regionals),” Lawson said. “But getting the win for the division, you can’t get a better moment than this right now.”
Lawson said the Scots came into the title game embracing the underdog role against Stanwood, the defending district champions.
“There’s always fear when it’s such a good team,” Lawson said. “But there’s also a lack of pressure because you know they’re expected to win and we’re the underdogs. We kind of came out and just scrapped our way to a win.”
Shorecrest felt like they could handle the Spartans and their 6-foot-8 post Drew Stang.
“I just felt like we matched up (well) against them,” Fischer said. “They’ve got the big guy, but we’ve got some good post players ourselves. They just went out and they just did it. They made plays down the stretch and I couldn’t be more proud of our guys.”
The Scots are heading to state for the first time since 1995. After cutting down the net, Lawson said he plans to have his strand prominently displayed for a while.
“I’m keeping this forever. I’ll make it a bracelet,” Lawson said, wrapping it around his wrist. “I’m going to wear it to school for like a month with all these guys. It’s going to be nice.”
Senior Josh Thayer had a game-high 20 points to lead Stanwood (22-1). Stang had a double-double for the Spartans with 12 points and 11 rebounds and Ian Zipp added 13 points. Junior Skout Roberson, who scored Stanwood’s first six points of the game, finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
“They’re an absolutely outstanding team,” Fischer said. “There’s a reason they were 22-0. They’re well-coached. They have great players. It’s a great accomplishment to beat them.
“These guys saw it as a challenge.”
At Jackson H.S.
Shorecrest 13 9 19 22 — 63
Stanwood 15 10 16 18 — 0
Shorecrest—Conin Oishi 2, Drew Magaoay 4, Connor Hyppa 0, Daniel Ghebremichael 15, Benny Ortega 13, Zach Lawson 7, Alex Hofstrand 10, Aaron Kelly 2, Masamba Njadoe 10. Stanwood—AJ Martinka 0, Ian Zipp 13, Anthony Engelhart 0, Josh Thayer 20, Drew Wright 0, Brady Garcea 0, Karsten Chaplik 4, Drew Stang 12, Skout Roberson 10. 3-point goals—Magaoay 1, Ghebremichael 2, Ortega 3, Lawson 1, Zipp 2, Thayer 3. Records—Shorecrest 17-6. Stanwood 22-1.