TACOMA — With its season slipping away, the Glacier Peak girls basketball team rattled off six straight points in the final minute of regulation to force overtime.
And in the extra period, with her team’s season on the brink once again, Haley Grambo rescued the Grizzlies with a wild buzzer-beater to force another extra frame.
With a flair for the dramatic, fifth-seeded Glacier Peak twice staved off elimination and extended the game.
As a result, the Grizzlies live to play another day.
Glacier Peak kept its season alive in dramatic fashion and advanced to the Class 4A state quarterfinals with a 58-49 double-overtime win over 12th-seeded Chiawana in a Hardwood Classic loser-out game full of twists and turns Wednesday night in the Tacoma Dome.
“There were a lot of high and a lot of lows,” Grizzlies coach Brian Hill said. “There were a couple times we lost that game, (and) there were a couple times we won that game. It was a roller coaster of a ride, but they just kept battling hard.”
Trailing 39-33 with less than a minute remaining in regulation, Glacier Peak (21-3) mounted a stunning rally.
After Maya Erling sank a pair of free throws to trim the deficit to four points, the Grizzlies forced a turnover on the ensuing inbound pass to regain possession. Sydney Guffey then drove for a running floater, making it a two-point game with 38 seconds to play.
Chiawana (19-7) proceeded to miss a pair of free throws with 25.6 seconds remaining, and Guffey grabbed the rebound to set up a Glacier Peak fastbreak. Grambo pushed the ball upcourt and passed to sophomore standout Aaliyah Collins, who used her speed to split two defenders and convert a game-tying layup with 18 seconds left.
“She’s so fast,” Hill said. “When she really wants to put on the afterburners, she can blow by a lot of people.”
Remarkably, the Grizzlies even had a chance to win in regulation after forcing another turnover in the waning moments. But Glacier Peak missed a potential game-winning transition layup in the closing seconds, and the game went to overtime.
The Grizzlies fell into a four-point hole in the first extra period before coming up with another pivotal takeaway, which led to a fastbreak basket by Collins that cut the deficit to 45-43 with 1:30 to play.
Collins later hit a pair of free throws with 27.6 seconds remaining, tying the score at 45-45 and setting the stage for a wild sequence.
It began with Chiawana sophomore Delaney Pink sinking a running floater from just inside the right elbow, giving the Riverhawks a two-point edge with 13 seconds to play.
Collins then quickly pushed the ball upcourt and passed to a teammate, whose ensuing shot bounced off the rim with the clock winding down. One of Chiawana’s players appeared to be on the verge of corralling the rebound, but Glacier Peak’s senior point guard had other ideas.
Grambo ripped the ball away and — while falling backward — launched an unorthodox, off-balance shot. The ball rattled around the rim as the buzzer sounded, and then fell through for a game-tying basket that forced double-overtime.
“It was all in slow motion,” Grambo said. “It was honestly my life kind of flashing in front of my eyes, since I’m a senior. But when I released it, I just knew it was going in. I was like, ‘That has to go in.’ And then after, everyone was just going crazy.”
The buzzer-beater sent the Grizzlies and their fans into pandemonium. A Chiawana player, meanwhile, placed her hands on her head in apparent disbelief.
“It was just really surreal,” Grambo said.
Glacier Peak pulled away in the second overtime, outscoring the Riverhawks 11-2 while scoring every point in the frame from the free-throw line. Collins led the Grizzlies with 20 points and sank all 10 of her free-throw attempts.
“That was huge,” Hill said of Collins’ perfect night from the line. “We needed every single one of them.”
Both teams struggled offensively throughout the contest, with each side shooting less than 30 percent from the field. Glacier Peak had a particularly miserable night from 3-point range, finishing just 1 of 20 from beyond the arc.
Both teams also had considerable difficulty taking care of the ball. Chiawana committed 36 turnovers, and the Grizzlies had 33.
“We force teams into making mistakes,” Hill said of his team’s swarming full-court press. “Unfortunately, we had a ton of mistakes too. … We were able to get a couple fortunate turnovers on them at a critical time, and we were able to capitalize and score to keep that game going.”
Pink led the Riverhawks with 15 points and Macey Morales added 13.
With the victory, Glacier Peak set up another showdown against third-seeded Lewis and Clark. The teams will square off in a state quarterfinal at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, which will be their third meeting in just over a year.
Last year, Lewis and Clark handed Glacier Peak a season-ending loss in the state regionals. The Grizzlies got revenge this past December, rallying for a 49-40 win over the Tigers in the title game of the Top of the Peak Holiday Tournament at Glacier Peak.
“We just have a will to win,” Grambo said. “… It’s just awesome to know that we’re going to be with each other fighting to the end.”