SNOHOMISH — When the Glacier Peak girls basketball team smells blood in the water, it smothers opponents with its press defense.
The top-seeded Grizzlies did just that Wednesday, forcing 26 turnovers (16 in the second half) in their 57-37 win over No. 4 seed Newport at Glacier Peak High School in a 4A Wes-King bi-district tournament quarterfinal game.
Glacier Peak clinched a state regional berth, the program’s eighth in nine years.
“We like to use our defense to motivate our offense and get it involved,” Grizzlies coach Brian Hill said. “We’re a pretty tough defensive team, and we like to sub a lot of people and put a lot of pressure (on opponents). I think we wore them out, especially at the end of the third quarter (and) start of the fourth quarter.”
Sophomore post Madison Rubino led the way with 14 points, while sophomore guards Aaliyah Collins and Maya Erling chipped in 13 for Glacier Peak (19-1).
“(Madison) had a great game, just keeping the ball alive off our missed chances and kicking the ball out and getting it inside,” Hill said. “I couldn’t be more proud of her. Defensively she’s tough too, because not only is she long and tall, but she’s fast. (Those are) good qualities to have in a basketball player.”
The Knights (12-12) sunk eight 3-pointers, five courtesy of Eva Richards, who led all scorers with 17 points.
The Grizzlies led 24-15 at halftime, led by Collins’ nine points. Glacier Peak stymied Newport in the second quarter, holding the Knights to just three points.
The pressure only intensified in the second half, with the Grizzlies outscoring Newport 33-22 in the final two quarters.
“We get really hyped from our defense, and it builds into our offense,” Rubino said.
Next up for Grizzlies is a semifinal matchup with No. 2 seed Eastlake on Friday. The Wolves waxed North Creek 84-59 in a quarterfinal matchup Thursday.
“It’s nice to have that pressure (of clinching a state regional berth) out of the way,” Hill said.