TACOMA — It took the Glacier Peak boys basketball team a little bit of time to figure out Sumner’s unorthodox 3-2 zone defense.
But after settling in and using inside-out ball movement to create open looks, the unbeaten Grizzlies rode a long-distance shooting barrage to keep their perfect season and championship hopes alive.
No. 2 seed Glacier Peak drained 12 3-pointers and rallied for a 57-52 win over ninth-seeded Sumner in a Class 4A state quarterfinal Thursday night in the Tacoma Dome.
“It’s a goofy zone, but it’s also long,” Grizzlies coach Brian Hunter said. “They’ve got really long guys, they’re really athletic and it’s a smart tactic by their coach, because you don’t see it very much. And so it takes a while to get used to it … (and) see where some of the openings are.
“It took us a while to just kind of settle down and realize (that going) inside out, we’re gonna get a lot better threes and a lot better looks,” he added.
The red-hot outside shooting helped Glacier Peak (25-0) advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 2011 and the second time in its program’s brief 12-year history. The Grizzlies face third-seeded and reigning state runner-up Mount Si at 9 p.m. Friday for a spot in the state title game.
“It feels amazing,” Glacier Peak junior standout Tucker Molina said.
Senior guard Tristen Bates led the Grizzlies with 15 points, including three 3-pointers. Molina also hit three 3s and finished with 11 points and seven assists. Brayden Quantrille, a senior, added 11 points for Glacier Peak.
The Grizzlies buried 12 of their 31 attempts from 3-point range, finishing with nearly two-thirds of their scoring from beyond the arc.
“We’ve always been shooters,” Molina said. “They just put a defense that left the corners open, and we just made our shots today. … Our 3-pointers were like everything for us.”
Champ Spencer, a junior forward, led Sumner (20-7) with 16 points. Senior guard Lamar Campbell added 15 points.
Josh Lear, who hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the Spartans’ first-round win over two-time defending state champion Gonzaga Prep, netted 10 of his 12 points in the first half before battling foul trouble.
Sumner scored 33 points in the first half, but managed just 19 in the second half against Glacier Peak’s smothering mix of defenses.
“It took Lamar out as a driver,” Spartans coach Jake Jackson said. “Lamar couldn’t attack anymore, and (Glacier Peak) did a great job guarding the perimeter where Lear couldn’t get shots up.”
The Grizzlies trailed by eight points at halftime, but surged in front with a 16-2 run to open the third quarter. Glacier Peak hit four 3-pointers during that stretch, including a pair of triples from Bates. Quantrille capped the run with a transition layup to give the Grizzlies a 41-35 advantage.
“That was a great start of the third quarter,” Hunter said. “That’s what you hope for as a coach. … I just loved the way our kids responded in this environment. Super proud of them for that.”
Sumner (20-7) closed the third quarter with an 8-0 run to reclaim the lead. In the final minute of the period, Campbell buried a 3-pointer to give the Spartans a 43-41 advantage.
The teams then alternated leads four times during a tense, back-and-forth final quarter before Quantrille fought through contact for a go-ahead basket. That gave the Grizzlies a 48-47 edge with just under three minutes to play.
Soon after, senior Brayden Corwin added a big 3-pointer to provide Glacier Peak a four-point cushion with 2:10 remaining.
The Grizzlies then came up with defensive stops down the stretch and sank free throws to seal the victory.
It ended a string of three consecutive Tacoma Dome losses for Glacier Peak, which fell in the first round of the Hardwood Classic each of the past three seasons.
“We just want it so bad,” Quantrille said of his team’s resilience and will to win. “Our chemistry is just at an all-time high.”
Early on, it looked like the Grizzlies’ perfect season might be in jeopardy.
Glacier Peak struggled in the opening period against Sumner’s unusual defense and fell into a 13-3 hole. The Grizzlies’ only points in the first five minutes came from a banked-in 3-pointer on the game’s opening possession.
“The first quarter was not pretty,” Hunter said. “People probably sat in the stands and thought, ‘What the heck? How did those guys win one game, let alone 24 games?’ But I think our guys, they were resilient in the way that they stuck together. And they stuck with what’s gotten us to this point, which is (that) we’re a team.”
After Glacier Peak trimmed the deficit to three points midway through the second quarter, the Spartans closed the half strong and took a 33-25 lead into the break.
But the Grizzlies came roaring out of halftime to pull in front, and then prevailed in a tense, back-and-forth final period to continue their storybook run.
Next up for Glacier Peak is Friday’s semifinal clash against Mount Si (24-4), which will be a rematch of the Wildcats’ overtime win over Glacier Peak in last year’s 4A Wes-King Bi-District Tournament semifinals.
Mount Si is led by a pair of NCAA Division I-bound senior guards in 6-foot-6 Saint Mary’s College commit Jabe Mullins and 6-7 Montana State University signee Tyler Patterson.
“We’re gonna enjoy this for like maybe an hour,” Hunter said shortly after the Grizzlies’ quarterfinal win, “and then be like, ‘OK, let’s get ready for Mount Si.’”