TACOMA — Coming off back-to-back hard-fought wins and playing its third game in as many nights, the Stanwood girls basketball team simply ran out of gas.
And facing 6-foot-4 sophomore standout Dalayah Daniels certainly didn’t make matters any easier for the Spartans.
No. 10-seeded Stanwood managed just 13 second-half points and suffered a 46-40 loss to third-seeded Garfield in a Class 3A Hardwood Classic semifinal Friday night at the Tacoma Dome.
“I knew coming into the game that we were going to be tired, because (we) had to play that extra game,” Spartans coach Dennis Kloke said.
”We weren’t quick to the ball like we normally are. We didn’t get transitions like we normally do. We got the long pass and broken lay-in, but we never got the lanes filled. We were just tired.”
Daniels dominated the interior with 21 points and 14 rebounds, helping the Bulldogs (23-7) to a 52-27 rebounding advantage.
“(She’s) frightening if you’re an opposing coach,” Kloke said. “She’s got tremendous poise and posture in the post, but she can also handle the ball on the perimeter.
“Their game plan obviously was to take advantage of us inside. … I was exceedingly impressed with her.”
Seniors Ashley Alter and Kaitlin Larson each scored 11 points for Stanwood, which shot just 12 of 44 (27.3 percent) from the field. The Spartans (19-7) didn’t make their third field goal of the second half until the game’s closing seconds.
“Their legs just didn’t have the spring to go to the basket,” said Kloke, whose team grinded out wins over Prairie and top-seeded Lincoln the previous two nights to reach the state semifinals for the first time in program history.
“We were fresh yesterday, and I think given another circumstance, we would be more competitive tonight. But you’ve got to live with what you’ve got.”
Daniels scored six points in the game’s first three minutes, helping Garfield to an early 10-3 lead.
Stanwood climbed back with several transition baskets in the second quarter, rattling off a 12-2 run to take a 23-20 lead midway through the period. The teams were tied 27-27 at halftime.
Garfield pulled in front early in the third quarter, and Daniels later made a pair of putbacks to give the Bulldogs a 35-30 lead. Alter converted a transition lay-up in the final minute of the period for Stanwood’s only field goal of the quarter, cutting the deficit to 36-33.
But the offensive struggles continued in the fourth, with the Spartans going scoreless for a five-minute stretch. Daniels banked in a shot to push Garfield’s lead to 44-35 with 2:08 to play, and Stanwood’s title hopes fizzled out.
Kloke said he was proud of his team for keeping the margin close despite the massive rebounding discrepancy.
“When you’re outrebounded (like that), … how in the world were we only down six?” Kloke said. “When we’ve done that against teams and shot the percentage that (Garfield) shot, it’s been a 25-point blowout.
“The girls just hustled as hard as they can. … I’m really proud of that. It’s in their DNA. That’s just the way these young ladies are.”
Garfield advances to Saturday’s state championship game against Gig Harbor. Stanwood will play in the third/fifth-place game against West Seattle at 1 p.m.
The Spartans are guaranteed their best-ever state finish. Stanwood’s previous best finishes came when the program took seventh place in 1993 and 1995.
“We get another game and we get more time together,” Kloke said. “This is my 52nd year coaching, and only this team and a boys team in (the 1970s) had this (type of) chemistry.
“The girls that did not get to play feel just as bad as the girls who played that we didn’t win the game. And what more can you ask as a coach? We want to be together, so I’m thrilled that we’ve got another game.”