By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
After the Stanwood boys basketball team punched its ticket to the Tacoma Dome for the state quarterfinals with a 73-55 win over Foss in Saturday’s state-regional game, it was hard to tell if the look on the player’s faces was more joy or relief.
The Spartans came up one game short of advancing to Tacoma last year, falling to Franklin 76-64 after holding an early lead. With a dominant second half, Stanwood made sure it didn’t suffer a similar fate this season.
“I think that the returning kids this year, that has been on their mind for 24 games now,” Stanwood head coach Zach Ward said. “I think you saw that in the second half.
“It’s four seniors that have been on the floor for me for three or four years. They’re experienced. They’ve been in this situation and it didn’t turn out the way they wanted it to and tonight it did. They knew what they wanted.”
The Spartans jumped ahead 15-10 after the first quarter and built that lead up to 14 at 27-13 with 2:39 to play in the first half, but the Falcons made a run to close the gap at halftime. Armond Davis scored the final seven points of the first half for Foss, which finished the half with a 12-2 run to trail 29-25 at the break. Foss had just three players score, but thanks to Davis’ 16 points the Falcons were still very much in the game.
The Falcons scored the first four points of the second half to tie the score at 29, but the Spartans owned the rest of the game.
Senior Josh Thayer made three of his four 3s in the second half and scored 19 points to help spark his team, but it was his defense on Davis that made the biggest difference.
“Basically (I was) just trying to not let him touch the ball and not let him get a shot off,” Thayer said.
Davis got a few shots off, but not many. Thayer, who face-guarded Davis for much of the second half even when the ball wasn’t close to him, held the senior to just two 3s in the second half.
“We just matched up with him,” Ward said. “That’s a case where I have the utmost confidence in Josh. He’s my best defender. If I’m going to battle, I’m taking my best guys and we’re going to put those guys in the place to succeed. I think Josh on him was the best.”
Davis finished with 22 points.
While the Falcons offense struggled to score, the Spartans were pulling away.
Junior Skout Roberson didn’t do anything flashy, but by the time the game was over he finished with 21 points to lead all Stanwood scorers.
“It’s hard to get much (publicity) with (Drew) Stang and Josh,” Ward said. “Skout’s just a junior. He’s the only junior in the starting lineup. Without Skout tonight, we don’t win.
“He’s just a workhorse.”
Stang also came up big for Stanwood, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the second half while establishing a dominating presence in the key.
Stanwood built its lead to nine at 50-41 by the end of the third and piled it on in the fourth to advance to Tacoma, where they will be one of the favorites, along with powerhouse Rainier Beach. The 23-1 Spartans finished the regular season 20-0 with their only stumble coming to Shorecrest in the 3A district 1 championship game.
But more importantly the Spartans are headed to the Tacoma Dome for the first time since 2010 – and for this group of senior, the first time ever.
“Last year with a disappointing end of the season in regionals it really made us give that extra effort,” Thayer said. “In today’s game we really didn’t want to end the season. I didn’t want to end the season as a senior and I don’t think anybody else did.”
At Kent-Meridian H.S.
Stanwood 15 14 21 23 — 73
Foss 10 15 16 14 — 55
Stanwood—AJ Martinka 0, Ian Zipp 6, Anthony Engelhart 0, Josh Thayer 19, Drew Wright 2, Carlton McDonald 0, Brady Garcea 7, Derek Ross 0, Isaac Olson 2, Karsten Chaplik 2, Drew Stang 14, Skout Roberson 21. Foss—LJ Lovelace 0, Chris Reynolds 8, John Moore 0, Olashawn Miller 10, Michel Cocke 0, Sam Dabalos-McMahon 13, Jaz Howard 0, Armond Davis 22, Simon McCann 2, Avondre Little, Stephon Shaw 0. 3-point goals—Zipp 1, Thayer 4, Garcea 1, Dabalos-McMahon 1, Davis 5. Records—Stanwood 23-1. Foss 17-8.