Glacier Peak’s Jo Lee (2) shoots the ball during a boys game between Glacier Peak and Davis at Shorewood High School on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, in Shoreline, WA. Glacier Peak fell, 65-54.. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Glacier Peak’s Jo Lee (2) shoots the ball during a boys game between Glacier Peak and Davis at Shorewood High School on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, in Shoreline, WA. Glacier Peak fell, 65-54.. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Glacier Peak boys outmuscled by Davis in 65-54 loss

The Grizzlies lose the battle of the boards as they’re knocked into the Class 4A round of 12.

SHORELINE — The Glacier Peak High School boys basketball found itself in an unfamiliar position: playing from behind.

Glacier Peak hung around and pulled within striking distance late, but the battle-tested Pirates used their superior size to halt any push the Grizzlies made.

Junior Cesar Hernandez led a balanced effort with 16 points, and fifth-seeded Davis controlled the boards while serving fourth-seeded Glacier Peak a 65-54 loss Friday in a Class 4A state regionals clash at Shorewood High School. Both teams had already qualified for next week’s Hardwood Classic at the Tacoma Dome.

“They’re a senior dominated team with big, strong kids who have had a lot of tough endings (to their seasons) the last few years, which kind of toughened them up for games like today,” Glacier Peak coach Brian Hunter said about the Pirates. “You gotta give them credit. Those guys really did a great job on the glass. We focused on it, but we just struggled getting them off the offensive glass. That was obviously the key to the game, their second-chance points.”

Davis’ trio of 6-foot-5 seniors Blake Garza, Nate Stephenson and Finnegan Anderson gave Glacier Peak (22-3) fits on the boards throughout the night. They combined for 23 rebounds, including eight on the offensive glass, and 29 points. Finnegan had 12 points and seven rebounds, Garza added nine points and nine rebounds and Stephenson chipped in eight points and seven rebounds. Senior Brandon Lee added 15 points for the Pirates (22-2), who received meaningful contributions from all five of their starters. The win ended Davis’ streak of four straight losses at state regionals that dated back to 2016.

“This is probably the most balanced group we’ve played,” Hunter said. “I think (Hernandez) makes them go, but the other four starters are seniors and they’ve been through a lot of games and a lot of experiences, and you kind of saw that today. They responded well when they needed to.”

Jayce Nelson and Reed Nagel netted 13 points apiece, Jo Lee had 11 and Isaiah Cuellar added 10 for the Grizzlies.

Glacier Peak plays 13th-seeded Camas in a loser-out round-of-12 matchup at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday in Tacoma. Davis advanced to Thursday’s quarterfinals against an opponent yet to be determined.

The teams matched up evenly early, but Davis took a 17-14 lead on junior Tyson Lee’s 3-pointer late in the first quarter, and the Pirates held it the rest of the way.

Glacier Peak kept the game within single digits until the Pirates went on a 9-0 run for a 50-37 advantage early in the fourth. The Grizzlies clawed back within 52-46 on a three-point play from Nagel, but couldn’t get any closer.

Garza put the finishing touches on the win for Davis. He blocked a shot on a fast break to maintain the six-point advantage, then later extended it out with a putback and an emphatic two-handed dunk that put the Pirates up 62-52 with less than 1 minute, 30 seconds remaining.

“We needed one more shot, but we also needed some loose balls and turnovers,” Hunter said. “We had balls in our hands and for whatever reason we couldn’t complete those plays. Those are big, 50-50 balls and second-chance points off of those decide these types of games.”

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