EVERETT — Creative defenses. Clutch shots at the buzzer. The Glacier Peak High School girls basketball team threw everything it had at the Woodinville Falcons on Friday. But it wasn’t quite enough to overcome the top team in the state.
At least not yet, anyway.
Glacier Peak took the undefeated Falcons into overtime, but the Grizzlies faded in OT, and Woodinville defeated Glacier Peak 62-57 in the Class 4A Wes-King Bi-District Tournament championship game at Everett Community College.
Veronica Sheffey scored 21 points, including going 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in overtime, as Woodinville (25-0), ranked No. 1 in the WIAA’s 4A RPI rankings, confirmed its status as the favorite to win state.
But Glacier Peak, led by Maya Erling’s 22 points, showed that if any team has a chance of knocking the Falcons off, it’s the third-ranked Grizzlies.
“It was an important game,” Erling said. “You don’t just go out and compete with the team ranked 24th in the nation for nothing, you go hard. I think we did today, and I think that shows that while we have a couple things to fix, if we fix those we can maybe get the win next time.”
Aaliyah Collins added 13 points, six rebounds and six assists for Glacier Peak (20-3), which overcame a seven-point deficit with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, forcing overtime on Collins’ spinning lay-up that tied it with 1.5 seconds remaining. Madison Rubino chipped in with 11 boards.
Woodinville won despite its star, Mia Hughes, being nullified in the first half, then fouling out in the second. Hughes, who averages more than 20 points per game, finished with 11.
“At the end, even without Mia in, I thought we got some big rebounds and some good stops, so I’m happy,” Woodinville coach Scott Bullock said. “And they missed some shots that probably they normally make. So we had a little luck bounce our way, too.”
Both teams had already qualified for next weekend’s state regionals. Given their RPI rankings, both are almost assured of playing for first-round byes at state, rather then being relegated to loser-out contests. Those matchups will be determined Sunday.
Glacier Peak coach Brian Hill showed his creativity right from the start as the Grizzlies opened the game with a defense that was essentially player-to-player, but with Erling sagging way off her player to help deny the ball to Hughes in the post. That left one Woodinville support player wide open, but the open shots didn’t fall, and Elyse Waldal’s 3-pointer at the first-half horn gave the Grizzlies a 26-19 halftime lead.
Woodinville adjusted in the second half, with Hughes coming out of the post to set screens at the top of the key on the pick-and-roll, and the Falcons found more of an offensive rhythm. When Hughes stole a pass and streaked away for a lay-up that made it 51-44 two minutes remaining, it seemed like Woodinville had clinched it.
But again the Grizzlies got creative on defense, switching to a 1-2-2 full-court press, and while it didn’t create turnovers it got the Falcons back out of rhythm on offense. Erling leaked free for buckets off long passes in transition to pull Glacier Peak within one at 51-50, and after Sheffey made one of two free throws, Glacier Peak had 9.9 seconds to tie it.
After a timeout, Collins was able to get into the lane on the right, then spun back left for they tying lay-up just before time expired, sending the game to OT.
“We tried to turn up the tempo a little bit, see if we could get them a little bit sloppy,” Hill said about the fourth-quarter comeback. “But what it actually did was get us moving a little quicker than we had been while we lost that lead.”
However, Glacier Peak had nothing left in the tank in OT, as weary legs resulted in jump shots missing the mark. Erling briefly gave the Grizzlies the lead at 55-54 when she converted a three-point play. But Sheffey made two free throws to restore Woodinville’s lead, and after the Falcons kept rebounding Glacier Peak misses, Sheffey continued to drain her free throws to put the game away.