SNOHOMISH — The Glacier Peak High School boys basketball team had cruised past nearly every opponent during its perfect start to the season.
So when the Grizzlies fell behind by double digts in the second half Monday night, it certainly was unfamiliar territory.
But there was no quit in Glacier Peak.
Bobby Siebers drained a late go-ahead 3-pointer and the Grizzlies rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit to remain unbeaten with a 55-49 win over visiting Mariner in a Wesco 4A showdown of conference unbeatens.
“We talked about it in a timeout — we just needed to make one play at a time and you can’t get this whole thing back at once,” Glacier Peak coach Brian Hunter said. “It’s gonna take some time.
“But if you can string some possessions together, … we just wanted to see what would happen. And then guys made plays when they needed to.”
Glacier Peak (15-0, 9-0 Wesco 4A) entered the night having outscored opponents by 28.6 points per game. Aside from a five-point non-league win over Class 1A power King’s in early December, the Grizzlies had downed every other team by at least 16 points.
But for much of the night, it was Mariner in control. The Marauders (13-2, 8-1) led by 15 points midway through the third quarter and held a 45-35 advantage with 5:30 to play.
“I think from (Mariner’s) standpoint, it’s really hard to maintain a lead in someone else’s gym,” Hunter said. “And our thoughts were, ‘If we can just get this (deficit) down a little bit, (let’s) see what happens.’”
What happened was a 17-2 fourth-quarter run by Glacier Peak.
The Grizzlies cut into the margin with a baseline layup by Brayden Quantrille and a 3-pointer by Brayden Corwin, which made it 45-41. Then after Mariner sank a pair of free throws, Tucker Molina banked in a shot and Quantrille added a putback to make it a two-point game with 2:11 to play.
Mariner then committed three consecutive costly turnovers, the first of which set the stage for Siebers’ big shot.
Siebers helped set a double screen for Molina and popped out to an open spot beyond the 3-point line, where he received a pass from his junior teammate. The 6-foot-3 lefty sophomore then coolly drained the go-ahead trey, giving the Grizzlies a 48-47 edge with 1:34 remaining.
Glacier Peak’s fans and student section erupted as the ball swished through the net for the Grizzlies’ first lead since the game’s opening minutes.
“They were just doubling everything,” Siebers said. “And so when I was open, I called Tucker’s name, he kicked it out, I believed in my shot and it went in.”
After a second straight Mariner turnover, Molina drove into the lane for a contested basket to extend Glacier Peak’s lead to 50-47 with 59 seconds to play. The Marauders then gave away the ball yet again, and the Grizzlies hit free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
“We pride our (program) on playing till the very end,” Hunter said. “And I think tonight was a situation where the guys learned that they can do that.”
With the victory, Glacier Peak kept its perfect record intact and gained sole possession of first place in Wesco 4A. The two league-title contenders meet again in a Feb. 11 regular-season finale at Mariner.
“We’ve gotta play until the end,” Marauders coach Tevin Dillon said. “That’s the biggest thing. We were giving up big plays in the fourth quarter that got us killed.
“We stopped being aggressive,” he added. “I felt like we started to focus on wasting time instead of getting to the rim. We stopped being aggressive, and that hurt us.”
Mariner entered the night with an 11-game win streak and was off to its best start in more than a decade. And for much of the contest, it looked like the Marauders were on track to add a signature victory over the defending Wesco 4A champions to their resume.
Mariner led by six points at halftime and pushed the margin to 36-21 midway through the third quarter when football star Roman Savchuk came up with a steal and threw down a two-handed slam in transition, sending the Marauders’ fans into a frenzy.
“Mariner had a great game plan,” Hunter said. “They played really, really hard. They were super motivated, super focused, good athletes, good team. Tevin had them really prepared well. I think they really wanted it, and it showed.”
But after a cold shooting performance for the first two-and-a-half quarters, the Grizzlies stormed back into the game with a 12-2 run. Quantrille capped the surge with a pair of baskets in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, slicing Mariner’s lead to 38-33.
“We just woke up, started trusting each other and just played as a team,” Siebers said. “And we just kicked it up on defense, which really brought our energy to offense.”
The Marauders responded by pushing the margin back to double digits, with back-to-back baskets by Tony MacArthur giving Mariner a 45-35 advantage. But the Grizzlies refused to cave.
“We shot the ball poorly — real poorly,” Hunter said. “And then I felt like when we started making a few shots, we started playing a little bit more like we normally play. But I really feel like the guys just kind of stuck together.
“They needed a game like this in an environment like this to figure out what they need to do,” he added, “and how they need to play to get important victories like this against really good basketball teams that are really tough.”
Molina led Glacier Peak with 19 of his game-high 23 points in the second half and finished with 12 made free throws. Quantrille added 16 points for the Grizzlies, who held an opponent under 50 points for the seventh consecutive game and the 11th time this season.
MacArthur led Mariner with 11 points and Henry Avra added 10. Naser Motley, Christopher Herrera and Savchuk each added eight.
“We know who we are,” Dillon said. “We know what we’re capable of and the talent that we have. We’ve gotta be more disciplined. … We’ve gotta be able to play for four quarters until that clock hits zero.
“It’s a learning (lesson) for us,” he added. “We’ll learn from it and we’ll definitely get better from it.”