MILL CREEK — Over the past few years, the Glacier Peak High School boys basketball team has made the Tacoma Dome an annual destination.
The unbeaten Grizzlies are likely headed there again.
Glacier Peak clinched its fourth consecutive state regional berth and virtually locked up another Hardwood Classic appearance with a 59-39 win over Skyline in a Class 4A Wes-King Bi-District Tournament semifinal Tuesday night at Jackson High School.
“This senior class, every season they’ve been involved with, our varsity has ended in Tacoma,” Grizzlies coach Brian Hunter said. “And that’s just not normal. I think (the players) know (that), but they got to place their own stamp on it this year, because they’ve had such an amazing season.”
The victory secured Glacier Peak (22-0) its ninth state regional berth in the past 11 years. And because the Grizzlies are a virtual lock to finish in the top eight of the 4A state Ratings Percentage Index, that means they are all but guaranteed a fourth straight trip to the Tacoma Dome for the Hardwood Classic.
Glacier Peak is currently ranked No. 2 with an RPI of 0.73, which is nearly 0.09 ahead of the No. 9 team. The top eight seeds in next week’s state regionals square off in non-elimination regional matchups, and thus are guaranteed spots in the following week’s Hardwood Classic.
“It’s crazy,” Grizzlies senior Tristen Bates said of the likely fourth consecutive Tacoma Dome appearance. “To have it every single year that I’ve been in high school, it’s been a crazy experience.”
Glacier Peak drained 10 3-pointers against KingCo 4A Tournament runner-up Skyline — including six in the first half — en route to its 17th double-digit victory of the season.
Bobby Siebers, a sophomore, hit four 3-pointers for a team-high 16 points. Bates drilled three 3s and finished with 15 points. Tucker Molina added 12 points and Brayden Quantrille scored 11 for the Grizzlies.
“We knew that (Skyline) was definitely a team that was gonna try to take away certain strengths of ours, and then maybe give us a few opportunities in other places,” Hunter said. “… Our guys did a really nice job of finding the open guy, and then our guys were ready to shoot and had confidence.”
The Grizzlies got off to a roaring start with back-to-back 3-pointers from Bates and Molina. Glacier Peak drained three more 3s in the first three minutes of the second quarter — including two from Siebers — to stretch the margin to double digits. Bates added another 3 later in the period, and the Grizzlies took a 32-21 lead into halftime.
“We’ve struggled a little bit lately early in games for some reason,” Hunter said. “And I think tonight, it was nice to come out and kind of play like we’ve played most of the season in the first half.”
Glacier Peak stretched its lead to 14 points early in the second half, but Skyline point guard Kauner Przybylski scored nine of his team-high 18 points in the third quarter to slice into the deficit. On back-to-back possessions late in the period, Przybylski sank a floater and followed his own miss for a hard-fought putback to make it 38-32.
Yet just as Skyline (17-7) was seizing momentum, Quantrille drove to the basket and beat the third-quarter buzzer for a last-second layup that pushed the Grizzlies’ lead back to eight points.
“When he made that buzzer-beater, it was really just a light to our fire just to keep going,” Bates said.
Nursing an eight-point advantage midway through the fourth quarter, Bates swished a 3-pointer and then zipped a one-handed pass to Siebers for a layup that pushed Glacier Peak’s lead to 49-36. The Grizzlies led by double digits the rest of the way.
In addition to securing a state regional berth, the victory advanced Glacier Peak to Friday night’s bi-district championship game against KingCo 4A No. 3 seed Inglemoor (17-8) at Everett Community College. Inglemoor beat Woodinville 67-52 in the other bi-district semifinal.
“It’s a reward game,” Hunter said of the bi-district championship, “but it’s also a game where you want to show kind of what you’ve done all season and what you’ve accomplished. And you also just want to keep the momentum going.”