Glacier Peak players react during a 4A semifinal game between Glacier Peak and Richland at the Tacoma Dome on Friday, March 1, 2024 in Tacoma, Washington. Glacier Peak fell, 70-59. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Glacier Peak players react during a 4A semifinal game between Glacier Peak and Richland at the Tacoma Dome on Friday, March 1, 2024 in Tacoma, Washington. Glacier Peak fell, 70-59. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Glacier Peak boys fade late against Richland in 4A state semifinals

An 11-0 closing run by the Bombers hands the Grizzlies a 70-59 loss.

TACOMA — The Glacier Peak High School boys basketball team went pound-for-pound with Richland for the first 27 minutes of a Class 4A Hardwood Classic semifinal matchup on Friday night, but the Bombers pulled away in the final five.

In a game that featured 15 lead changes and 12 ties, the seventh-seeded Bombers secured their shot at a state championship, using an 11-0 run over the final 5 minutes, 14 seconds to slip past the No. 4 Grizzlies 70-59 at the Tacoma Dome.

Glacier Peak (24-4) will compete in the third-place tilt Saturday at 1 p.m. against Davis in a state regional round rematch. Richland (23-4) will face Mount Si on Saturday at 3 p.m. in the title bout.

“I can’t fault my guys for their fight tonight,” Glacier Peak head coach Brian Hunter said. “They battled, and there were definitely advantages that (Richland) had, and the kids really worked, they fought and they were tough.”

Grizzlies junior guard Jo Lee had with 22 points and four boards on 8-for-22 from the floor, while junior Jayce Nelson added 16 points and four rebounds on 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. Senior Isaiah Cuellar finished with nine points with five rebounds.

One of the advantages was the Bombers had was 6-foot-10 senior post Luke Westerfield, who collected 20 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two blocks after being relatively bottled up in the first half by the Grizzlies. Joshua Woodard also supplied a double-double, going for 17 points and 11 boards. Landen Northrop tacked on 13 points and six assists.

Glacier Peak’s Jayce Nelson (21) shoots the ball during a 4A semifinal game between Glacier Peak and Richland at the Tacoma Dome on Friday, March 1, 2024 in Tacoma, Washington. Glacier Peak fell, 70-59. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Glacier Peak’s Jayce Nelson (21) shoots the ball during a 4A semifinal game between Glacier Peak and Richland at the Tacoma Dome on Friday, March 1, 2024 in Tacoma, Washington. Glacier Peak fell, 70-59. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Glacier Peak’s 6-foot-4 freshman post Zachary Albright (four points, nine rebounds) was one of the main bodies used to slow down Westerfield in the opening two quarters.

“He’s a 6-10 senior who’s playing college basketball next year,” Hunter said of Westerfield. “And we have a kid who’s going to be a sophomore in high school next year guarding him. Sometimes those things play out. It wasn’t just Zach, it was also a team thing. We just had some rotations that weren’t great.”

With 10 lead changes coming in the first half, the Grizzlies took the last one before intermission as senior Sam Waldow scored on a lay-in as time expired, giving Glacier Peak a 31-29 lead.

The Grizzlies stretched their lead to seven at 38-31 on a pair of free throws from Lee at the 6:12 mark in the third, triggering a Bombers timeout. Then, Westerfield made his presence felt. The senior went on a personal 7-0 run to tie it at 38-38, and Jack Forbes rose up for a breakaway one-handed dunk for the lead at the 4:49 mark.

After a Glacier Peak timeout, the Grizzlies fought back and regained the lead 45-44 on Albright’s putback, and Cuellar sunk a 3 to go up 48-46 with two minutes until the fourth. Richland answered back to take a 54-52 advantage into the fourth.

Glacier Peak players huddle shoots the ball during a 4A semifinal game between Glacier Peak and Richland at the Tacoma Dome on Friday, March 1, 2024 in Tacoma, Washington. Glacier Peak fell, 70-59. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Glacier Peak players huddle shoots the ball during a 4A semifinal game between Glacier Peak and Richland at the Tacoma Dome on Friday, March 1, 2024 in Tacoma, Washington. Glacier Peak fell, 70-59. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Glacier Peak had chances to take back the momentum in the final frame but ultimately was denied.

After Nelson came through with a triple in the corner to tie it at 59-59 with 5:14 to go, the Grizzlies were held scoreless the rest of the way.

Westerfield made a hook shot from the post with 1:20 left to make it 67-59, and the Bombers closed the door at the foul line the rest of the way.

As Glacier Peak’s bid at a first-ever state championship appearance didn’t materialize, Hunter looks at tomorrow’s afternoon tilt as another growing opportunity for a youthful and hungry group.

“Unbelievable growth amongst our kids this week (and) and opportunity tomorrow,” Hunter said. “You look at how young these guys are and how they’ve stepped up in different moments. … The biggest hurt tomorrow would be that we’re not playing anymore on Sunday.

“This is as good of a team to be with as you can possibly have. If we were to win a state championship tomorrow, it would still hurt on Sunday because we wouldn’t be hanging out and we won’t be together as a team anymore.”

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