TACOMA – Josh Thayer was confident it wasn’t going to be his last high school game.
His 18 points helped make sure of it.
Thayer and the Stanwood boys basketball team rebounded from a loss in the 3A state quarterfinals, with a 66-54 victory over Shadle Park in a loser-out game Friday morning at the Tacoma Dome, clinching a spot in the 4th/6th place game Saturday morning at 8 a.m.
“I think we got over (the quarterfinal loss to Bellevue) as soon as we walked in the locker room,” Thayer said. “We knew we had to get the win today to keep playing. ‘We’re going to play (Saturday),’ was basically my thought.”
The win assures the Spartans (24-2 overall) that they will return to Stanwood with a trophy, a major accomplishment for the team.
“That’s exactly what they wanted,” said Stanwood head coach Zach Ward. “And now we’re playing a game where you get fourth or sixth. … There’s plenty for us to play for.”
Stanwood, which led by as many as 21, started to pull away in the second quarter, outscoring the Highlanders 19-8.
Shadle Park (10-15) got the deficit down to 10 points with 1:34 left in the game, but a Thayer 3-pointer erased any chance of a Highlanders’ comeback.
“I think the kids really moved on from (Thursday),” Ward said. “That’s to their credit. I can say whatever I want to try to motivate them but they’ve got to do it. I told them before the game that you have to be the team that’s excited to play in this game.”
Senior Drew Stang had a double-double for Stanwood with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Stang missed much of the Spartans’ 61-43 loss to Bellevue on Thursday with foul trouble, but made the most of his opportunities Friday, showing exactly why the 6-foot-8 post is so integral to the Stanwood offense.
“It really was just simple. We didn’t think they had somebody that could guard Drew,” Ward said. “So we needed to make sure that he got 20 touches – and I think we were probably pretty close to that number – and that’s going to free up everything else. So much of what we do involves him. When he’s not in there, it takes some adaption.”
Guard Alvin Welch had 12 points to lead Shadle Park, which saw its season end with the loss.
The 8 a.m. start time for the fourth-place game poses another challenge for Stanwood, but Ward said his players will be ready to go.
“It’s the last game of the year,” Ward said. “Some of these guys it’s the last game they’ll ever play. For six of them it’s the last game they’ll ever play in a Stanwood uniform. There’s a lot of things there that I think maybe heal that or make it a little easier – probably not when the alarm clock goes off. But I think when they’re here they’re not going to know if it’s 8 a.m. or 10 a.m. or 11 a.m.
“I think they’re going to be fine.”
Thayer is one of those six Stanwood seniors that will be playing his final game in a Spartans uniform. The point guard said he feels a mix of emotions about his Stanwood finale.
“I don’t think that’s hit me yet. I just want to keep playing,” Thayer said. “It’ll probably hit me tomorrow after the game, that this is my last game with Stanwood basketball. As of right now, it’s about getting the win.”
At Tacoma Dome
Stanwood 16 19 17 14 — 66
Shadle Park 12 8 15 19 — 54
Stanwood—AJ Martinka 0, Ian Zipp 6, Anthony Engelhart 0, Josh Thayer 18, Drew Wright 0, Carlton McDonald 0, Brady Garcea 6, Derek Ross 2, Isaac Olson 0, Karsten Chaplik 9, Drew Stang 21, Skout Roberson 4. Shadle Park—Eric Cooper 2, N’Keil Nelson 2, Alvin Welch 12, George Pilimai 8, Kyle Knutsen 7, Caden Rogers 0, Skyler Kelley 8, Jared Burns 5, Sam Straton 0, Bronson Leinweber 0, Dale Hagen 10. 3-point goals—Thayer 3, Garcea 1, Chaplik 1, Kelley 2, Burns 1. Records—Stanwod 24-2 overall. Shadle Park 10-15.