MILL CREEK — The Shorecrest boys basketball team took a 20-point lead into the fourth quarter and fended off a furious Squalicum rally to hold on for a 70-65 win in a Class 3A District 1 semifinal Wednesday night at Jackson High School.
With the victory, the Scots (19-2) clinched a state-regional berth and advanced to Friday night’s district title game against top-seeded Stanwood.
“Squalicum went on a heck of a run,” Shorecrest coach Brian Fischer said. “We knew the guys that we needed to stop, but they found a few more down the stretch, and those guys did a good job of finding each other and getting shots up. We were definitely on our heels a little bit. We made just enough plays at the end to keep them away.”
Senior guard Malcolm Rosier-Butler led Shorecrest with 18 points and was one of four Scots to finish in double figures. Shorecrest 6-foot-8 junior Phillip Pepple added 15 points, junior Chris Lee scored 12 and senior Walter Wang had 10.
Shorecrest shot 10-of-12 from the field in the first quarter while racing to a 24-15 lead. The Scots stretched the margin to 38-24 by halftime and to 56-36 through three quarters.
But Squalicum (17-4) stormed back with eight 3-pointers in the final period, rattling off a 29-11 fourth-quarter run that sliced the deficit to 67-65 with 1:30 left to play. Senior reserve Taylor Lenderman led the Storm comeback, hitting four 3-pointers and scoring all 15 of his points in the final period.
Squalicum had a chance to tie the game with less than a minute remaining, but Pepple rebounded a Storm miss and sank a pair of free throws to help seal the regional-clinching victory.
“It means a lot,” Fischer said of securing a trip to regionals. “This team has been playing good basketball all year long. … And when you have guys like this who are good guys, who play for the right reasons and who care about each other, you want to see them have success for all the effort that they’ve put in all year.”