SHORELINE — When a school with over 1,300 kids competes with one that has less than 400 it would seem like a mismatch in most competitions.
But Friday night’s clash between Class 4A Glacier Peak and 1A King’s was far from the David vs. Goliath scenario the separation in the schools’ classifications may suggest. It was a game between two of the area’s premier boys basketball programs.
“Basketball is not necessarily based on your classification as far as what kind of a team you have” Glacier Peak coach Brian Hunter said Thursday. “Football is different. Basketball is about quality not quantity, generally, when you talk about your rosters.”
And both Hunter and King’s coach Rick Skeen felt that their teams would benefit from a home-and-home series against each other regardless off the classification difference.
“They’re one of the premier programs in Snohomish County,” Skeen said Thursday. “Coach Hunter has been there since it opened. He did a great job at Stanwood before then. Their teams are very well coached, they’re disciplined, they’re physical. I think that’s one of the biggest things we see when we play bigger schools is just the physicality. The athletes are bigger and stronger in general, and we love to play those teams.”
Said Hunter: “I think this game benefits both of us from the standpoint that we’re both used to having success and being programs that maybe (will) put some high expectations on each other when we start the season (against each other).”
The game certainly lived up to its billing.
Brayden Corwin scored 18 points, the Grizzlies connected on 7 of 14 3-pointers in the first half and Glacier Peak staved off a furious King’s comeback to earn a 58-53 non-conference victory at Mike Martin Gymnasium.
“You never know early truthfully how your squad is going to respond to things,” Hunter said after the game. “… I think it’s just another game to build on a bit because it’s still so early, but I was proud of our guys for responding in a tough environment, on the road, against a good team.”
After trailing for the entire second half, the Knights started to mount their comeback down 50-42 with 2:53 remaining in the fourth quarter. Knights sophomore Tyler Linhardt cut the lead to 52-47 with a 3-point play and, after a Davis Campbell steal, dropped the deficit to 52-49 with a pair of free throws with 1:03 remaining.
Glacier Peak went back up five after two clutch free throws from senior Pierce Darlington and King’s answered back with a two-point bucket from Jordan Hansen. Darlington nailed another pair of free throws to push the lead back to five, and Linhardt, who scored 12 of the Knights’ 16 fourth-quarter points, made his presence felt again, cutting the lead back down to 54-51 after another made basket with just 16.3 seconds remaining.
The Knights got the ball back after the Grizzlies threw away the inbound pass. Linhardt got an open look at a 3 to tie it, but came up just short, and Corwin sank a pair of free throws with 0.3 seconds left to seal the game.
“That’s probably what we were impressed about most about our young team,” King’s assistant coach Scott Boyce said of the comeback bid. “The way we were able to extend the game the last three, four minutes, get some great possessions, some great looks against a really, really good basketball team.”
Glacier Peak stormed out to a 9-2 lead at the 5:38 mark of the first quarter behind three 3-pointers, then King’s answered right back with a 10-0 run of its own to grab the lead at 12-9, but Glacier Peak closed the quarter on a 7-2 run for 17-15 lead at the end of the period.
The team’s battled back and forth until the final seconds of the second half when an 8.7-second sequence shifted the momentum hugely heading into the break.
The Grizzlies came out of a timeout, and Brayden Quantrille drove straight to the hoop and scored and was fouled on the play. He converted the 3-point play, then Skeen was called for a technical foul after arguing the call. Glacier Peak split its free-throw attempts and Bobby Siebers drained a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Grizzlies a 33-24 advantage at halftime.
“It was definitely obviously a big momentum swing at the end of the half,” Hunter said. “I thought our kids made the plays though they had to. It’s one thing to have the opportunity to makes those plays, but our kids stuck the 3 and made their free throws.”
Corwin led Glacier Peak in scoring and had four rebounds and three assists. Siebers added 12 and Quantrille 10.
Linhardt, who already has NCAA Division-I offers from Eastern Washington and Boise State according to prephoops.com, poured in a game-high 25 points and added six rebounds.
“I think Linhardt is one of the best players in the state and he showed it tonight at times,” Hunter said.
Sophomore Jordan Hansen added 18 points for King’s.
For the Grizzlies this was the second challenging matchup in a difficult non-league schedule that started with a 74-54 victory over 3A state tournament qualifier West Seattle on Tuesday and includes 2A state qualifier Anacortes, 1A fourth-place finisher Lynden Christian and Oregon’s two-time defending 3A state champion, De La Salle North Catholic.
This was the season-opener for a King’s squad that’s playing what Skeen said, “is by far the hardest non-league schedule we’ve put together.” That’s something considering King’s schedules a tough non-conference slate each season. The Knights have games with 2A Lakewood, 1A fifth-place finisher La Center, 4A Kent Meridian, 4A state runner-up Mount Si, 2A state champion Lynden and a four-day tournament in Arizona.
“We’re dress rehearsing a bunch of state tournament semifinal and championship games, and on our scouting report we believe Glacier Peak would win the 1A state title,” Skeen said Thursday. “So our very first game of the year we get to play in a state championship game. We get to see where we’re at, we get to see what our weaknesses are. In a real state championship you only get one shot, but we feel like our schedule gives us a chance to dress rehearse playing big games in February.”