SNOHOMISH — At the start of the Glacier Peak-Stanwood girls basketball game, it was hard to tell what was colder: the temperature outside the gym where it was snowing or both teams’ offenses.
Glacier Peak gradually warmed up, but it was Stanwood that finally caught fire. The Spartans outscored the Grizzlies 25-4 in the fourth quarter, erasing a 12-point deficit to beat Glacier Peak 40-31 in a Wesco 3A game Wednesday night.
“That’s how we want to play every quarter,” Stanwood head coach Dennis Kloke said. “… That was fun. The ball bounced our way. We really struggled on offense, but the kids kept playing hard on defense.”
Stanwood had been remarkably consistent for the first three quarters, scoring five points in each, and found itself trailing 27-15 when the final period started.
The Spartans’ offense — and defense — immediately increased its intensity, sparking a 17-3 scoring run to take the lead. Lauren Allison tied the score with a 3-pointer with 2:25 remaining. Almost exactly a minute later, Stanwood took its first lead since the opening quarter when Rachel Swartz made a mid-range jump shot right as the shot clock was about to expire.
Swartz had 11 of her 14 points in the fourth quarter and Tristan Murphy had nine of her 14 then as the Spartans more than doubled their total from the previous three quarters.
“The No. 1 thing is that we never give up,” Kloke said. “We don’t cave in.”
The Stanwood coach said that he prefers nail-biters like Wednesday’s game over blowouts. He believes it’s important that he keeps his composure on the sideline so the Spartans will keep theirs on the court.
“I would love to play tough games like this every night out,” Kloke said. “I love competition. I don’t really get nervous. If I get all nervous, it reinforces that doubt in (the players’) minds.”
Swartz, a senior post who has committed to Missouri State, agreed.
“It’s a lot more fun for me when it’s a tight game,” Swartz said.
The opening quarters were also tight. Neither team came out shooting the ball especially well, combining to score nine points in the first quarter and 25 by halftime.
A defensive battle was exactly the kind of game that Glacier Peak head coach Brian Hill had been expecting. Both teams matched up well, with two tall post players, similar scoring averages and intense defensive pressure, he said.
“I was predicting the game to be in the 40s,” Hill said. “If you look at both teams on paper we’re pretty even.”
Glacier Peak’s offense maxed out with 12 points in the third quarter and the Grizzlies took a 27-15 lead going into the fourth. Then things started to get a little rough.
Glacier Peak began to have trouble with Stanwood’s full-court defensive pressure, and at one point turned the ball over on four straight possessions.
“Instead of worrying about playing basketball, we worried about making mistakes,” Hill said. “And that led to us making mistakes. … I give Stanwood all the credit. They stepped up their defensive pressure.”
The Grizzlies made one field goal — a fast-break layup by Victoria Goudreau — in the quarter.
“I thought we played 31/2 quarters of great basketball,” Hill said. “Then we sort of self-imploded.”
And Stanwood took advantage.
The Spartans (6-0 league, 10-2 overall) began working the ball into the post, where Swartz and Murphy attacked the basket and racked up fouls on Glacier Peak defenders. Midway through the quarter, it was apparent who had the momentum.
“We all just came together as a team and said, ‘we can’t give up yet … We really have nothing to lose. We can just try our best and hope for the best.’” Swartz said.
Swartz also grabbed eight rebounds — and Murphy added five boards — as Stanwood fought to complete the huge comeback.
Allie Weathersby had two 3-pointers — both in the second quarter — to lead Glacier Peak (4-2, 9-4) with six points. Taylor Baird had five points and 10 rebounds and Nicole Fausey added four points and nine rebounds as the Grizzlies won the rebounding battle early while going on an 11-0 run in the second quarter.
Hill hopes his team can rebound from the defeat, and is looking forward to another potential matchup with the Spartans come playoff time.
“I was just trying to get their heads back in it,” Hill said. “But to let them know that it’s a game. And as nice as it would’ve been to win, if we play this team again (in the 3A district tournament) I’ll happily take a win there.”
At Glacier Peak H.S.
Stanwood–Sierra Palmer 0, Lauren Allison 5, Julia Heichel 0, Samantha Powell 4, Haley Strowbridge 0, Jillian Jacobs 1, Janea Taylor 2, Rachel Swartz 14, Tristan Murphy 14. Glacier Peak–Taylor Baird 5, Sadie Mensing 5, Carly Ruiz 0, Sophia Gaffney 4, Victoria Goudreau 2, India Smith 0, Sarah Smith 2, Sawyer Manning 3, Kianna Garner 0, Nicole Fausey 4, Allie Weathersby 6. 3-point goals–Allison 1, Manning 1, Weathersby 2. Records–Stanwood 6-0 league, 10-2 overall. Glacier Peak 4-2, 9-4.