By Aaron Swaney Herald Writer
The Stanwood boys basketball team got off to a slow start in its season opener on Tuesday night. But after a nice surge helped by key sixth-man Ian Zipp in the second quarter, the Spartans turned it on in the second half and blew the doors off Mount Vernon.
Throughout the game it was clear that the Spartans could be a special team this season, which, with a number of key players returning from a solid season in 2011-12, was never a secret.
But what seems to me to be a big reason why Stanwood could be playing into March is its depth and the diversity. The Spartans showed Tuesday night they can go eight deep without a drop off and have nearly every role on the court covered.
“Our ability to go to the bench is a big part of what we do,” said Stanwood head coach Zach Ward. “We talk about different pieces and we’re trying to put this puzzle together, but tonight is an image of what we can do.”
Here’s a look at the Spartans from top to middle:
• Returning All-Wesco player Cannen Roberson, who can do a little bit of everything. He can shoot, pass, rebound, play a little defense; call him Stanwood’s Brandon Roy. “He got a lot stronger in the offseason and put on about 15 pounds of muscle,” Ward said of Roberson. “He’s a nice piece to have.”
• Drew Sears is a 6-foot-10 post that is still working on being more aggressive on the offensive end but defensively he’s going to be a problem for most teams. He had six blocks in Tuesday night’s win and Mount Vernon had trouble all night inside. “If we have the ability to guard out on the perimeter with our guards and we have (Drew at) 6-10 back at the hoop protecting, that’s ideal,” Ward said.
• Guard Josh Thayer was considered one of the top Wesco 3A North defensive players going into this season but he showed Tuesday night he can fill it up offensively. Thayer hit four 3-pointers and scored 20 points in the win.
• Senior wing Ian Zipp is the perfect sixth man. He can play nearly every position on the floor and he comes off the bench with a ton of energy that will help the Spartans in many games this season.
• Guard Mason Garcea does a good job of running the offense and can hit a big shot when needed.
• At 6-7 post Drew Stang creates more problems for players that go inside on Stanwood. He had three blocks in the game’s first four minutes against Mount Vernon.
Ward has no qualms putting in Kurtis Hushasen or Brady Garcea to help off the bench. Up next Stanwood’s faces a pair of tough teams from the Vancouver area in Mountain View and Union, which should go a long way in determining where the Spartans are at in this young season.