EVERETT — On a night Glacier Peak wasn’t at its best, the Grizzlies still found their way to the Tacoma Dome.
Not a whole lot was working for Glacier Peak’s offense against an energized Issaquah team, but when Grizzlies coach Brian Hunter found a way to exploit the Eagles, GP took advantage again and again.
Glacier Peak overcame a four-point first quarter, leaned heavily on bigs Fletcher Douglas and Evan Mannes and earned a hard-fought 56-49 state regional win over Issaquah on Friday at Everett Community College.
“That was a rough first quarter for us to get our feet wet,” Hunter said. “I thought the second quarter we got more comfortable and started playing a bit. At that point, I think we realized we are going to have to grind this out. I think our experience and size was the difference.”
Douglas scored a game-high 19 points, and Mannes added 16 off the bench to guide Glacier Peak to its third consecutive Hardwood Classic appearance. The Grizzlies (15-7) will open the 4A state tournament at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Tacoma Dome.
“We’re excited,” Hunter said. “I told the kids if Tacoma gets old, you should get out of athletics, out of coaching, out of being a fan. I hope people realize no matter how you get there, it is super difficult.”
Glacier Peak certainly had its hands full Friday night.
The Grizzlies didn’t score their sixth point until Douglas made a layup with 6:55 to go in the second quarter that cut Issaquah’s lead to 10-6. Then Mannes, who had just come off the bench, went to work and exposed an advantage inside that Hunter the Grizzlies went to all night.
Glacier Peak moved to a rotation featuring the 6-foot-5 Mannes and the 6-4 Douglas and Noah Forman. Issaquah refused to match up with three bigs, and the Grizzlies consistently exploited the mismatch with textbook low-post play.
“I think our kids did a nice job of having patience and letting Fletcher work himself in getting the ball where he wanted to get it,” Hunter said. “Fletcher got into a groove where he felt pretty good tonight, and that’s one of the benefits that we have. I think we’ve had six different leading scorers this year.”
Mannes scored seven second-quarter points, and Brayden Corwin, who finished with 10 points, hit two big 3s, as Glacier Peak and Issaquah went into the break tied at 23.
The Eagles went on a 7-0 run early in the second half to take a 34-27 lead with 5:15 remaining in the third, but GP answered with an 11-2 run featuring six points from Douglas.
The Grizzlies ended the third with a 43-40 advantage and led the entire fourth quarter. Issaquah, though, cut the lead to 50-48 with 1:40 to play.
But GP’s Wesco 4A-leading defense turned the Eagles away down the stretch as the Grizzlies made their free throws to seal the win.
Issaquah was led by Jonathan Lo’s 18 points, and Forman led Glacier Peak with eight rebounds to go with his four points.