TACOMA — It was a nightmare start for the Glacier Peak boys basketball team.
And one the Grizzlies simply couldn’t afford against an opponent as long and talented as Mount Si.
No. 2 seed Glacier Peak went scoreless for the entire opening quarter and suffered its first loss of the season, seeing its championship dreams come to an end with a 62-49 defeat to the No. 3 seed Wildcats in a Class 4A state semifinal Friday night in the Tacoma Dome.
“That was unbelievable,” Grizzlies coach Brian Hunter said of being shut out in the first quarter. “Never had that happen.”
Glacier Peak (25-1) took a perfect record into the semifinals and was just one victory away from the first state title-game appearance in its program’s 12-year history.
But this clash of Wesco 4A and KingCo 4A champions couldn’t have started any worse for the Grizzlies.
Glacier Peak didn’t score until the opening minute of the second quarter. By that point, the Grizzlies had already fallen into a 13-0 hole.
Mount Si (25-4) used its next-level length and athleticism to stymie Glacier Peak early on and hold the Grizzlies to a season-low point total. The reigning state runner-up Wildcats feature four starters listed at 6-foot-6 or taller, including a pair of NCAA Division I-bound standouts.
“That’s a collegiate-level-length basketball team,” Hunter said. “I think you could probably watch a lot of Division II games at Seattle Pacific, and you wouldn’t see the length and size that they have. So it’s not a normal basketball team, which makes things difficult.”
Glacier Peak also was undone by Mount Si’s red-hot long-distance shooting.
The Wildcats drained a staggering 12 of 20 shots (60%) from 3-point range, including 8 of 12 in the second half. Many of them came off great ball movement against the Grizzlies’ typically stingy defense.
“That’s an unbelievable percentage,” Hunter said. “I mean, I don’t care if you’re wide-open. In this gym (especially), that’s an incredible percentage.”
After the miserable start, Glacier Peak came roaring back with 23 second-quarter points. Senior guard Caleb Lee provided a spark off the bench with seven first-half points for the Grizzlies, including a long floater at the halftime buzzer that cut Mount Si’s lead to 26-23.
“I think the second quarter took us a little by surprise,” Wildcats coach Jason Griffith said. “We don’t give up 23 points in a quarter, like, ever. And so that was credit to Glacier. But once we made the adjustments in the third, I felt like we took control of the game.”
The Wildcats pushed their lead back to double digits with a 3-point onslaught, hitting five shots from beyond the arc to stretch the margin to 43-32 by the end of the third quarter. Montana State University signee Tyler Patterson and younger brother Quin Patterson — who stand 6-7 and 6-6 respectively — each buried a pair of corner 3-pointers in the period.
“We started doing some high pick-and-roll stuff, which pushes the Pattersons into the corners and stretches the defense out more,” Griffith said. “You’ve just gotta give those kids credit. They shot it with confidence.”
Glacier Peak sharpshooter Bobby Siebers sank a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 49-42 with just under five minutes to play.
But the Wildcats answered with three more 3-pointers over the next three-plus minutes, which pushed the margin to 60-44 and secured their second consecutive trip to the state championship game.
Mount Si, which fell to Gonzaga Prep in last year’s title game, faces fourth-seeded Central Valley at 3 p.m. Saturday for the state crown.
“Ever since March 15 — that’s when we had our first offseason meeting — our goal was to get back to the championship game,” Griffith said.
The Wildcats got major contributions from all five starters, who each played at least 30 of the 32 minutes.
Tyler Patterson buried five 3-pointers and led Mount Si with 17 points. Quin Patterson, a sophomore, added four 3s and 14 points.
Hayden Curtiss nearly posted a double-double for the Wildcats, totaling 16 points and nine rebounds. The 6-9 senior forward threw down an alley-oop slam in the opening quarter that left the rim crooked, which delayed the game for several minutes.
Jabe Mullins, a 6-6 Saint Mary’s College commit, scored six points and provided a whopping 14 assists. Sophomore point guard Bennett O’Connor added three 3-pointers for nine points.
Mount Si finished with assists on 20 of its 25 made field goals. And the Wildcats rode their height to a 28-17 rebounding advantage.
Tucker Molina led Glacier Peak with 17 points. Siebers added 12 points, including three 3-pointers.
Hunter said his team’s brutal start not only put the Grizzlies in an early double-digit hole, but forced them to expend a lot of energy climbing back into the game during their second-quarter rally.
“It takes a lot to come back from where we were, and maybe we just didn’t quite have enough left (after that),” he said.
Glacier Peak faces top-seeded Union in the third/fifth-place game at 1 p.m. Saturday. Both teams entered the state semifinals with unblemished records before suffering their first losses of the season. With a win, the Grizzlies would earn the best state finish in their program’s 12-year history.
“I just told our kids, tomorrow is a reward for playing an unbelievable level of basketball for four months,” Hunter said. “… I think they owe it to themselves to just really put their best effort out one more time.
“I’ve loved how our team has played all year and I wouldn’t trade these guys,” he added. “It’s been an unbelievable ride.”