Snohomish’s Kendall Hammer yells in celebration after her teammate scores two and draws a foul call during the 3A girls district championship game against Arlington on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Snohomish’s Kendall Hammer yells in celebration after her teammate scores two and draws a foul call during the 3A girls district championship game against Arlington on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Late putback lifts Snohomish girls past Arlington in 3A district title game

Tyler Gildersleeve-Stiles delivers the decisive basket in the Panthers’ 45-43 win.

MARYSVILLE — When the Snohomish and Arlington girls basketball teams meet, they have a knack for delivering a down-to-the-wire finish.

The programs produced another instant classic Saturday night with a district championship on the line.

The Panthers and Eagles slugged it out in what became a defensive battle late, and Snohomish junior Tyler Gildersleeve-Stiles delivered the decisive blow just before the final buzzer sounded.

Gildersleeve-Stiles scored on a putback in the final second and Snohomish knocked off three-time defending district champion Arlington 45-43 in the Class 3A District 1 title game at Marysville Pilchuck High School.

“It feels really great,” Gildersleeve-Stiles said, “and the fact that I could do that for my teammates and my program, I’m just really grateful and I’m really excited that I can be in this position right now.”

The win gave the Panthers (17-5) their first district title since 2019. It also extended what’s been a recent stretch tense finishes between the Wesco 3A powers. Arlington (20-3) edged Snohomish by one point last season and again by one point earlier this season on a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The programs have combined for the past five 3A District 1 championships.

“They’re good and we’re good,” Snohomish coach Ken Roberts said of the close battles. “I guess that’s the way I’d put it. Both teams compete.”

Gildersleeve-Stiles finished with 16 points and seven rebounds and sophomore Sienna Capelli hit three crucial 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and had 11 points for the Panthers.

Senior Samara Morrow registered a game-high 21 points, junior Kierra Reese scored 11 and senior Katie Snow had eight for Arlington.

Morrow put Arlington in control early with three 3-pointers and 13 points in the first quarter for a 20-12 lead, and the Eagles pushed their advantage to as high as 26-14 midway through the second quarter. But Snohomish’s defense locked in from there on out.

The Panthers held the Eagles scoreless for the rest of the quarter and inched closer at 26-21 at the half. They tied it at 26 early in the third on a 3-pointer from senior Addyson Gallatin. Senior Rachel Snow answered back with a 3 to put Arlington in front and the Eagles maintained a slim lead into a seesaw fourth quarter that saw three ties and four lead changes.

Snohomish’s Sienna Capelli and Arlington’s Samara Morrow scramble for the ball during the 3A girls district championship game on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Snohomish’s Sienna Capelli and Arlington’s Samara Morrow scramble for the ball during the 3A girls district championship game on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Capelli put the Panthers in the lead for the first time since early in the first with a 3-pointer to make it 38-35 with 3:19 left in the fourth. Morrow responded with a three-point play and then drilled a 3-pointer as the shot clock sounded to put the Eagles back in front at 41-38 with 2:16 to go.

Another Capelli 3-pointer put Snohomish in front 43-41 in the closing moments, but Katie Snow tied it at 43 with a bucket in the paint on the next possession to trigger a Snohomish timeout with 7.7 seconds left.

Snohomish looked to Gildersleeve-Stiles on the baseline out of the break. The junior’s first attempted missed but she grabbed the rebound and put in the deciding second-chance bucket.

“I thought it was a good game with both teams making adjustments throughout, kind of confusing the other team a little bit,” Roberts said. “It was well-coached by (Arlington coach) Joe (Marsh). Our girls just did the right things at the end of the game.”

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