MILL CREEK — Saturday night’s 3A District semifinal game between Stanwood and Glacier Peak was an instant classic.
Just ask Stanwood head coach Zach Ward.
The Spartans and Glacier Peak battled the entire way with Stanwood overcoming a 10-point halftime deficit on its way to a 62-58 victory at Jackson High School.
“What a game,” Ward said. “I’m just so happy for the kids. That’s a game they’re going to remember forever.”
Junior guard Ian Zipp had 16 points off the bench for the Spartans as they narrowed the Glacier Peak lead late in the game.
“He’s an x-factor,” Ward said. “He can go in for anybody. He has a great energy and can play all over the floor. He’s got pieces of everything you’d want in a player.”
Stanwood’s comeback was a team effort with Josh Thayer scoring 14 points, posts Drew Stang netting 11 points and grabbing six rebounds and Drew Sears grabbing six rebounds and scoring six points — two of them clutch free throws with 4.2 seconds to play in the game.
“We got guys like Ian Zipp stepping up,” Ward said. “Our big guys were good. Stang hit some big buckets. Sears free throws were game-clinching.”
Stanwood had to come from behind thanks to a fast start by the Grizzlies, who outscored the Spartans 17-6 in the first quarter and had a 33-23 lead at halftime.
Ward said he “got into” his team a bit at halftime.
“I think they needed a wake-up call,” Ward said. “I think that first half got to them with the bright lights. I’ve seen that before. It’s the same thing that happened last year when we were (in the district tournament).”
“(Halftime) was definitely somber, but at halftime we were already coming back on an incline,” Zipp said. “We knew we were going to give it to them.”
Ward’s speech rallied the Spartans. A 7-0 run in the third quarter brought Stanwood to within six points and the Spartans hung around until Mason Garcea made a 3-pointer with 5:04 to play in the fourth quarter to give Stanwood its first lead of the game 52-50.
Glacier Peak responded with some big baskets of its own. Dreu Vader led all scorers with 21 points — 11 of which came in the second half. Mitchl Pohrman had 11 points, including two big 3-pointers and Trey Chambers added 10 points off the bench for the Grizzlies.
Glacier Peak head coach Brian Hunter was proud with his team’s effort after the game.
“I just think they played really well,” Hunter said. “I’m definitely proud of my kids. I’m not disappointed in them at all.”
The Grizzlies and Spartans exchanged baskets in the final minutes of the game. Every time Thayer or a Stanwood player would make a basket, Vader or another Grizzly would respond on the other end.
It all set up a fantastic finish, punctuated by Sears’ free throws in the final seconds.
“They made plays,” Hunter said. “They got to the basket. They didn’t quit. They’re a great team.”
The two coaches are good friends, with Ward having served as an assistant under Hunter. Ward said that the two talk every week, with this week being the exception.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach Hunter,” Ward said. “He’s a mentor of mine. I was his assistant. It’s tough. I know how he’s feeling. But I know he’s going to have his team ready to go. They’re good kids. Man, I wouldn’t want to play them on that side of the bracket.”
Glacier Peak plays host to Shorewood on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in a loser-out game. The winner of that game faces the winner of Shorecrest-Oak Harbor for the district’s third berth to regionals.
“We’ll let this game sink in,” Hunter said. “It’s a natural thing. Games like this hurt. By the time Monday comes around you’ve got to get back to work. One team comes from that end of the bracket and it’s the team that doesn’t give up and keeps working.”
Stanwood next plays Mountlake Terrace in the district championship at 8 p.m Saturday at Jackson High School. The Hawks won the previous matchup 58-52 on Jan. 11.
Both teams advance to regionals where they can qualify for the 3A state tournament.
At Jackson H.S.
Glacier Peak 17 16 14 11 — 58
Stanwood 6 17 19 20 — 62
Glacier Peak–Ty Kjellesvik 2, Dreu Vader 21, Austin Kiser 0, Ramsey Rosales 6, Zach Pederson 8, Mitchl Pohrman 11, Trey Chambers 10. Stanwood–Mason Garcea 8, Josh Thayer 14, Cannen Roberson 3, Drew Stang 11, Ian Zipp 16, Brady Garcea 0, Kurtis Hushagen 4, Drew Sears 6. 3-point goals–Vader 1, Pohrman 2, Chambers 2, M. Garcea 1, Thayer 1. Records–Glacier Peak 17-5 overall. Stanwood 17-5.