SNOHOMISH — The Glacier Peak girls basketball team had to wait a few days longer to open the season than most of its counterparts.
Then, once Monday night finally arrived, the Grizzlies had to wait a little while longer. With the preceding junior-varsity game lasting multiple overtimes and pushing back the varsity tip-off, Glacier Peak’s players were growing a bit restless.
“All day during school, (they were) like, ‘I can’t wait for the game. I can’t wait for the game,’” Grizzlies coach Brian Hill said. “And then during the JV game, they were like, ‘We just want to play. We just want to play.’”
When the opening whistle finally blew and Glacier Peak’s season tipped off at long last, the Grizzlies unleashed a furor of relentless defensive pressure that ultimately wore down their crosstown rival.
Fueled by a swarming full-court press that forced a slew of turnovers and led to numerous transition baskets, Glacier Peak pulled away in the second half for a 63-48 non-league victory over the visiting Panthers in the teams’ annual rivalry game.
“That’s our favorite thing to do,” Grizzlies senior point guard Haley Grambo said of her team’s defensive pressure. “Not a lot of teams can really figure out our press. Our press feeds a lot of our points and just keeps us going. … Our defense wears on people.”
After a back-and-forth first half in front of an energetic crowd at Glacier Peak High School, the Grizzlies (1-0) broke a halftime tie by outscoring Snohomish 37-22 over the final two quarters.
“Their press got more and more effective as the game went on,” Panthers coach Ken Roberts said. “Our kids got a little tired. … And when a press starts working, the team that’s turning it over gets more tentative, and the team that’s working for it gets more aggressive. It was just like a snowball effect.”
Glacier Peak opened the second half by forcing two turnovers in less than a minute, leading to a pair of easy lay-ins for a quick four-point lead.
“We just love defense,” Grizzlies sophomore guard Aaliyah Collins said. “We usually get (lots) of our points off our defense and pressing. It’s just fun for us.”
Snohomish (1-1) trimmed the deficit to 36-35 later in the third quarter, but Glacier Peak answered with back-to-back 3-pointers by Sydney Guffey and Malia Smith to stretch the margin to seven points.
Smith, a sophomore, came off the bench and sank four 3s, finishing with a team-high 14 points.
“She’s probably the best shooter we have on our team, and her range is deep,” Hill said. “You wouldn’t think she’d be able to shoot from that far, because she’s not really all that big of a person. But she does a good job, has great form, catches in flow and is confident when she shoots.”
Collins added 12 points for the Grizzlies, turning multiple steals into runaway lay-ins. Grambo added 10 points and sophomore Maya Erling scored nine, including a three-point play late in the third quarter on a tough scoop lay-in off the glass.
After taking a seven-point lead into the fourth, Glacier Peak held Snohomish scoreless for nearly four minutes and added two more transition baskets to push the margin to 52-41. The Grizzlies led by double digits the rest of the way.
Senior guard Maya DuChesne led Snohomish with 14 points, senior post Courtney Perry added 13 and junior forward Kaylin Beckman scored nine for the Panthers.
“We’ve got some things we need to work on, but that’s why we play good non-league (opponents),” Roberts said. “It’s good for us.”