SNOHOMISH — Facing one of its toughest tests to date, the Glacier Peak boys basketball team turned in yet another impressive defensive performance.
The Grizzlies kept red-hot Monroe star Trenton Newhouse off the scoreboard until the game’s final minute, and their lockdown defense paved the way as Glacier Peak raced to an early lead and held off a second-half surge by the visiting Bearcats to earn a 56-46 Wesco 4A win Tuesday night.
“We talk about defense and we work on defense daily,” Glacier Peak coach Brian Hunter said. “It’s the focus of our program. You hope that the time in the film room, the hard work, the talking about tendencies and trying to take away players’ strengths plays out.”
It certainly did Tuesday, as the Grizzlies stymied one of the area’s top scorers and held Monroe to its second-lowest point total of the season.
Newhouse entered the night having scored at least 28 points in three of his last four games, including a school-record 42 points in a blowout win over Mariner on Saturday. But the Monroe senior standout — limited by foul trouble and shut down by Glacier Peak senior guard Austin Petz — was a non-factor against the Grizzlies. He finished with just three points, scoring his only basket on a harmless 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining.
“The focus was making it difficult for him so that he didn’t get into a rhythm,” Hunter said. “Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but tonight I think Austin did a really nice job of just being there, making him work and taking away some of the tendencies that he goes to. We didn’t go into the game expecting to hold him to three (points), but our goal was to make him work.”
“I have to give all the credit to our point guard, Austin Petz,” Grizzlies senior guard Justin Purcell added. “He’s just an unbelievable defender.”
Tuesday was just the latest example of Glacier Peak’s defensive prowess. The Grizzlies (11-1 overall, 6-0 league) are allowing only 45.8 points per game this season and have held opponents to 50 points or less in nine of their 12 contests. No team has scored more than 54 points on Glacier Peak this season.
“We focus on stopping people first,” Hunter said. “And the offensive end will sometimes take care of itself, if you can make life difficult for people on the defensive end.”
Purcell led Glacier Peak with 16 points, including nine in the first quarter, while senior guard Seiver Southard scored 12 of his 15 points in the first half and finished with four 3-pointers. Junior guard Bobby Martin added 13 points for a balanced Grizzlies attack that moved the ball well and cut for a number of backdoor lay-ins.
“If they’re going to take away something, then the thought is that something else will be available,” Hunter said of his team’s backdoor success.
Glacier Peak held Monroe (8-4, 3-3) scoreless for the game’s first three-and-a-half minutes and built a 19-6 lead by the end of the first quarter. Petz drained a deep 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first half to stretch the margin to 34-20 heading into the break.
But the Bearcats stormed back with an 8-0 run in the first two minutes of the second half, slashing the deficit to 34-28. Monroe later used a 7-0 spurt to trim the margin to 39-35, but Glacier Peak sophomore Noah Forman closed the third quarter with a pair of backdoor lay-ins to push the Grizzlies’ lead to 43-35.
Monroe twice cut the deficit to five points in the fourth quarter, chipping the margin to 48-43 on a corner 3-pointer by senior JD Merwin with 2:25 to go. But Southard answered with a back-breaking 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, and the Grizzlies pulled away to earn their eighth double-digit win of the season.
Monroe 6-foot-7 junior Colby Kyle scored 16 points and senior guard Justin Folz added nine points for the Bearcats.
“(Glacier Peak) executed down the stretch, jumped on us from the get-go and did a really good job defensively taking away Trenton,” Monroe coach Tyson Horner said. “I’m proud of our guys (for) battling back. There was a fight — there was a sense of urgency that they were able to get some stops and convert on the other end.
“Unfortunately, it just got away from us at the end. Credit Glacier Peak for executing and being tough on defense.”