BELLEVUE — The term heartbreaker might be thrown around a little bit too loosely in sports these days.
What happened to the Stanwood girls basketball team on Friday night truly was a heartbreaker. After leading for the better part of the game, Seattle Prep’s Quinn Glosniak made two free throws with 6.8 seconds left to cap off a 44-43 come-from-behind victory over the Spartans in the regional round of the 3A state tournament.
The Panthers advance to the Tacoma Dome for the quarterfinals of state, while the Spartans season is over.
Stanwood went up 43-40 with 1:36 to play in the game, but the Spartans would never score another point.
Seattle Prep’s Mary Ann Santucci scored on a driving lay up with 23.3 seconds to play in the game. After the Spartans missed the front end of a 1-and-1, the Panthers had a chance to take the lead, something they had only done once since the first quarter. Seattle Prep got the ball inside to forward Quinn Glosniak, who drew a foul on Stanwood’s Tristan Murphy with 6.8 seconds left in the game.
Glosniak appeared calm as she stepped to the line and made both free throws to give the Panthers a 44-43 advantage.
“I honestly just tried to clear my mind and make it like practice,” Glosniak said after the game. “It’s all about repetitions at practice. I’ve done it a thousand times. So I just tried to get in that mindset.”
The Spartans called timeout to set something up, but Seattle Prep’s defense didn’t allow the Spartans to get off a shot before time expired.
“They made plays and we didn’t,” Stanwood head coach Dennis Kloke said. “It wasn’t for a lack of effort.”
The two teams traded the lead for much of the first quarter, but the Spartans seized a 10-8 advantage late in the opening stanza and never looked back. Stanwood led 13-10 after one and continued to gradually build the lead in the second quarter. Spartans wing Samantha Powell’s break away free-throw line runner as time expired in the half gave Stanwood a 24-18 lead at the break.
Powell’s basket was part of a quick four-point swing that gave Stanwood the momentum heading into the locker room. Santucci drove through the Spartans defense, but missed a lay up that would have cut the deficit to just two. The Spartans grabbed the rebound got the ball up to Powell who had the presence of mind to shoot the runner knowing she couldn’t get to the rim before the clock expired.
Murphy kept Stanwood rolling by opening the third quarter with a putback of her own miss to give the Spartans their biggest lead of the night at 26-18.
But the rest of the quarter belonged to the Panthers. Seattle Prep outscored the Spartans 13-5 for the remainder of the third quarter and capped it off with a 3-pointer that was banked in by sophomore forward Andraya Flor with three seconds remaining. Flor’s only basket of the game gave Seattle Prep its first lead since the first quarter at 32-31, which is how the third quarter would end.
“They got more confidence in their perimeter shooting,” Kloke said. “Plus we got a little leg-weary, so we weren’t quite as quick to the ball.”
Stanwood got its fourth-quarter boost from its star sophomore Murphy. She scored 10 of her 16 points in the quarter to help the Spartans regain the lead.
“That’s what we want her to do,” Kloke said. “She is tough to defend one-on-one. And if she gets position, she is tough to defend with two people on her.”
But the Panthers wouldn’t go away. Stanwood’s biggest lead of the quarter was three and Seattle Prep stayed close enough to stage its last-minute comeback.
It’s the second straight year that Stanwood has lost a close game in the regional round to end its season.
Many local coaches have been outspoken about their dislike for the regional format where one team’s season abruptly comes to an end.
What’s the solution?
“A four-game tournament,” Kloke said. “I’ll be very outspoken on that.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Bellevue College
Stanwood—Sierra Palmer 3, Lauren Allison 6, Samantha Powell 9, Haley Strowbridge 1, Jillian Jacobs 3, Janea Taylor 0, Rachel Swartz 5, Tristan Murphy 16. Seattle Prep.—Maggie Downer 0, Holly Tonry 3, Nicole Hall 8, Mary Ann Santucci 16, Quinn Glosniak 8, Andraya Flor 3, Michaela Carew 6. 3-point goals—Palmer 1, Jacobs 1, Santucci 4, Flor 1. Records—Stanwood 20-5 overall. Seattle Prep. 21-5.