TACOMA — The Glacier Peak boys basketball team used its physical, lockdown defense to keep a high-scoring Curtis squad in check.
But despite a hard-fought performance against the South Puget Sound League 4A champion, the Grizzlies were undone by a slew of turnovers and several costly fouls down the stretch.
No. 10 seed Glacier Peak missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds and suffered a 46-43 season-ending loss to No. 7 Curtis in a loser-out contest Wednesday at the Class 4A Hardwood Classic in the Tacoma Dome.
“We just had a lot of opportunities that we just couldn’t finish, and we turned the ball over way too much,” said Grizzlies coach Brian Hunter, whose team committed 20 turnovers. “It’s uncharacteristic of us. We turned it over too many times in critical situations.”
With just under four minutes to play, senior Evan Mannes drained a 3-pointer to give Glacier Peak a 41-38 lead. But the Grizzlies (15-8) committed several costly fouls on Curtis’ next few possessions, and the Vikings took advantage by sinking four free throws to gain a one-point advantage.
Then, after Glacier Peak reclaimed a one-point edge on a tough basket inside by Brayden Quantrille, Curtis standout Zack Paulsen made back-to-back baskets to give the Vikings (20-6) the lead for good.
The 6-foot-4 senior guard, who has signed with Seattle Pacific University, created separation on a crossover dribble and drove to the basket for a go-ahead layup off the glass with 1:25 to play. The Grizzlies then turned the ball over on a mishandled pass, and Paulsen took it the other way for a transition layup that stretched the Vikings’ lead to 46-43 with 41.2 seconds remaining.
Glacier Peak proceeded to miss three potential game-tying 3-pointers in the final 40 seconds, including a tightly contested last-second shot that clanked off the side of the backboard.
“The last three or four minutes, we got some shots, but we didn’t get enough shots because we just turned the ball over and they made plays,” Hunter said. “I’ve gotta give them credit. Paulsen is a really good player.”
Paulsen scored nine points in the opening quarter and finished with a team-high 19 for the Vikings, who advanced to face top-seeded Union in Thursday’s state quarterfinals.
The Grizzlies held Curtis 18 points below their season scoring average and allowed less than 50 points for the 16th time this season. Glacier Peak limited the Vikings to just 32.6-percent shooting from the field and shut out Jordan Parker, Curtis’ second-leading scorer.
“I love the way that our kids competed,” Hunter said.
Mannes provided a team-high 18 points and eight rebounds for the Grizzlies, who shot just 5-of-12 from the free-throw line.
“Unfortunately, if we get more possessions where we get shots off instead of turnovers, and we make anywhere near our season average on free throws, it’s a different game,” Hunter said.
The loss ended another success-filled season for Glacier Peak, which reached the Hardwood Classic for the third straight year.
“I told the guys how proud I was of them,” Hunter said. “It’s a super long season and there’s a lot of really, really good basketball teams that aren’t here. So when you get here, you have to be proud of what you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished.”