Amid another week of COVID-19-related cancellations, the high school basketball season continues to churn along. Here’s a look at some of the top highlights and storylines from around the area, including several thrilling finishes involving top teams:
WILD RIDE CONTINUES IN WESCO 3A/2A BOYS
It was a crazy 24-hour span in the wild, wild Wesco 3A/2A.
Last Wednesday night, the Mountlake Terrace boys rode a stingy defensive performance to edge Class 3A seventh-ranked Shorecrest for a 57-56 win. But the Hawks were on the opposite side of a one-point contest the following night, when they fell 63-62 to Stanwood.
And after the dust settled from those two down-to-the-wire matchups, the big winner was Arlington.
The Eagles (9-4, 7-1 Wesco 3A/2A) are now all alone atop the league standings as the only team with just one conference loss. Four teams have two conference losses: Shorecrest (12-2, 8-2), Stanwood (7-5, 6-2), Mountlake Terrace (8-2, 5-2) and Everett (5-6, 4-2).
It’s been a merry-go-round atop the 16-team Wesco 3A/2A this season. Arlington lost to Stanwood. Stanwood lost to Shorecrest and Everett. Everett lost to Arlington and Shorecrest. Shorecrest lost to Arlington and Mountlake Terrace. And Mountlake Terrace lost to Arlington and Stanwood.
“It makes it a little bit interesting at the top of the standings now with everybody losing to somebody (else),” Stanwood coach Josh Thayer said.
The pair of one-point games last week both featured edge-of-your-seat finishes.
On Wednesday night, Mountlake Terrace surged ahead and built a 56-50 lead with a late 9-2 run that included seven straight points by sophomore Zaveon Jones. Later on, Shorecrest cut the margin to 57-54 and then had a pair of chances to tie the game in the closing seconds.
First, the Scots missed a 3-pointer that got stuck between the rim and backboard. They retained possession via the possession arrow, which gave them an inbound situation under the basket with 3.6 seconds remaining.
But instead of attempting a potential game-tying 3-pointer, Shorecrest inbounded the ball for a layup and the clock ran out. The Hawks’ tough defense held the high-scoring Scots to a season-low 56 points, which was nearly 19 points below their season average.
The following night, Stanwood and Mountlake Terrace went back and forth down the stretch in a fourth quarter that featured four ties and seven lead changes.
Mountlake Terrace cut the deficit to 63-62 with 8.2 seconds remaining and then stole the ensuing inbound pass, but couldn’t convert a contested chance in the paint. After grabbing an offensive rebound on the miss, the Hawks called a timeout with 2.2 seconds left, setting up a sideline inbound situation.
But Stanwood’s defense held strong. The Hawks couldn’t get a shot off in the closing seconds, and the Spartans prevailed for a key win in the latest twist to Wesco 3A/2A’s roller-coaster ride.
GP BOYS TOP JACKSON ON BUZZER-BEATER
The finish of the week — and perhaps the season thus far — belonged to AJ Cline and the Glacier Peak boys.
As time expired in a key back-and-forth clash between Wesco 4A rivals, Cline drilled a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift the 4A seventh-ranked Grizzlies to a 57-54 win over 10th-ranked Jackson.
Sharp-shooting Glacier Peak senior Bobby Siebers, who had another big game with a team-high 20 points, received a pass near midcourt with about 6 seconds remaining. The Timberwolves brought a double-team, which ultimately left Cline open in the right corner.
Siebers stayed composed and tossed a pass to Cline. And the 6-foot-5 senior forward caught and released the ball in rhythm, draining the game-winner to send his team and the home crowd into a frenzied celebration.
“That’s like what you dream of in your backyard shooting around — hitting a game-winner against your rival,” Cline said. “It definitely feels amazing.”
Elsewhere in Wesco 4A, Mariner routed Jackson 73-53 last Monday and then prevailed for a 74-72 overtime win over rival Kamiak on Friday. Senior point guard Tijan Saine scored eight of the Marauders’ 10 points in overtime against the Knights and finished with a team-high 23.
Glacier Peak (9-1, 3-0 Wesco 4A) and Mariner (9-6, 3-0) are slated to square off Tuesday night in a battle for first place in the five-team Wesco 4A. It’s the first of two scheduled league games between the teams that could ultimately determine the conference title.
Meanwhile, Jackson (10-3, 1-2) has fallen into an early hole behind Glacier Peak and Mariner in the league standings.
Finishing in the top two of Wesco 4A has extra importance this year, as the league’s top two seeds earn byes into the double-elimination portion of the 4A Wes-King Bi-District Tournament. Wesco 4A’s No. 3 and 4 seeds will each face a KingCo 4A team in a play-in game to reach the double-elimination portion of the tournament.
LAKE STEVENS GIRLS EARN SIGNATURE WIN
Led by its talented group of seniors, the Lake Stevens girls are eyeing a deep postseason run.
And the seventh-ranked Vikings got a taste of state-caliber competition last Monday, when they beat third-ranked Tahoma 75-66 in a non-league clash of 4A top-10 teams.
It was the first in-state loss of the season for Tahoma. The Bears’ only other defeat was a one-point loss to Beaverton, which is the top-ranked 6A team in Oregon.
“(It was) a great win,” Lake Stevens coach Randy Edens said. “It’s something we can really lean on, for sure.”
Senior guard Baylor Thomas, a West Virginia State University signee, led the Vikings with 25 points. Fellow senior guard Chloe Pattison nearly posted a triple-double, finishing with 13 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Camille Jentzsch, an Eastern Washington University-bound senior post, added a massive double-double with 16 points and 17 rebounds.
And on defense, Lake Stevens (12-2) held a Tahoma team with two Division-I junior commits to just 32.4% shooting from the field.
The Vikings raced to 44-28 halftime lead. Then after Tahoma (12-2) trimmed the deficit to 52-51 early in the fourth quarter, Lake Stevens turned to Jentzsch. The 6-foot-4 senior was a force inside down the stretch, scoring eight points in the final five minutes to help the Vikings pull away.
“Once we kind of took that in the chin a little bit, in the fourth quarter we were really able to execute our game in the halfcourt and (we were) opportunistic,” Edens said. “We kind of found some plays that kind of changed the dynamic there late.”
“It’s huge,” he said of the confidence gained from beating a team of that caliber. “There’s no doubt about it.”
SNOHOMISH, ARLINGTON GIRLS TEST THEMSELVES BEFORE SHOWDOWN
Snohomish and Arlington are slated to square off in a battle for first place in Wesco 3A/2A Monday night. But prior to their encounter, both teams got ready for the showdown by facing premier non-league opponents last week.
In a matchup where both teams were short-handed, 3A fifth-ranked Snohomish routed 4A seventh-ranked Lake Stevens 64-43 on Thursday night. Eastern Washington University-bound senior guard Ella Gallatin led the Panthers with another massive performance, tying a school record with 38 points.
Lake Stevens, meanwhile, was held 19 points below its season average in the loss. The Vikings were missing three starters, including Jentzsch and fellow Eastern Washington University-bound senior post Cori Wilcox. Snohomish was missing a key contributor in senior guard Cheyenne Rodgers.
Arlington, meanwhile, filled a hole in its schedule by facing 4A second-ranked Woodinville on Friday night. The 3A third-ranked Eagles played the Falcons tough, but fell 68-60. Arlington’s only two losses this season have come to Woodinville and Tahoma — two of the top three teams in the 4A state rankings.
Monday night’s showdown between Arlington and Snohomish could very well end up determining the Wesco 3A/2A title. The Eagles (9-2, 7-0 Wesco 3A/2A) and Panthers (9-1, 4-0) are the league’s only remaining unbeatens in conference play.
Herald writer Zac Hereth contributed to this report