BOTHELL — Mariner guard Simon Fanuel had no doubt he’d make a winning-time shot with the Marauders’ season on the line. His only concern was getting open.
With under two minutes left and clinging to a one-point lead, teammate Edwin Bouah got the offensive play from Mariner coach Tevin Dillon. Fanuel’s number was called. The junior worked off a screen, got some space along the top of the arc and drilled a triple that ushered the Marauders into their first state berth in a decade.
“I knew I was going to make it,” Fanuel said. “It meant a lot. We are going to state now.”
Mariner used stifling defense, a late first-half run and hit key shots late to earn a 50-47 win in a Class 4A Wes-King Bi-District Tournament winner-to-state, loser-out game against Inglemoor on Monday at North Creek High School.
The win sends Mariner to the regional round of state, marking the first time the Marauders have reached state since Dillon helped Mariner accomplish the feat during the 2008-09 season.
“They’ve worked hard for this,” Dillon said. “We have been talking about this since the summer. It means everything (to reach state). It’s all I talk about to them. This is our goal, and now it’s a new chapter. Moments like this is when it really means a lot. Now that we are here, I am so proud of them, and we got to get back to work.”
Fanuel’s triple gave Mariner a 49-45 lead with 1:50 to play. Inglemoor’s Zachary Shimek hit a mid-range jumper to cut the lead to 49-47 with 36 seconds left before Mariner’s Diego Septimo-Ruiz made the front end of a 1-and-1, extending the Marauders’ lead to 50-47 with 34 seconds to go. Inglemoor couldn’t find a clean look from 3 on its final possession, as a last-second attempt from Peter Hansen rimmed off.
The state berth completes an impressive turnaround for Mariner (14-9), who last year won just three games.
“We thought about this goal right after last season because we were tired of losing,” said Bouah, who scored a team-high 13 points. “We’ve done whatever it takes to win.”
On Saturday it took an impressive defensive effort.
Mariner mixed defensive looks, transitioning from man, to half-court traps, to zone, as the Marauders held Inglemoor — KingCo’s highest-scoring offense — 13 points under its season average. The Vikings scored 12 or less points in three quarters.
The Marauders featured a balanced attack. Behind Bouah’s 13 points, Fanuel finished with 10, Diego Septimo-Ruiz added eight, Christopher Hendrickson scored seven and Tony MacArthur and Henry Avra both added six.
Inglemoor recorded its largest lead of the game early in the second quarter, 18-13, while dominating the rebound share. But Mariner used a 14-2 scoring run to close the second quarter with half those points coming from Septimo-Ruiz.
“At halftime, that’s what I talked about. If we rebound we win this game,” Dillon said. “Our goal was to get out there, put pressure on their shooters and make them put the ball on the ground. We forced some tough shots and tried not to give second shots. We did a good job of that in the second half.”
Mariner led 35-26 with 4:55 to play in the third quarter before Shimek took over.
In the span of 1:08, Shimek, who scored a game-high 16, recorded back-to-back 3-point plays followed by a 3-pointer to tie the game at 35-35.
Bouah, with 2:53 to go in the fourth, put Mariner in front for good when he stole a pass, dribbled the length of the court and made a layup as he got fouled. A subsequent free throw gave the Marauders a 46-45 lead, setting up Fanuel’s clutch shot a possession later.
“When I saw (Fanuel’s) shot go in, it was great,” Bouah said. “Simon is that type of a player. At the end of the game, he’s a big-shot maker.”