MILL CREEK — A week-and-a-half ago Shorecrest left Stanwood High School humbled yet hungry after suffering a Wesco 3A double-digit loss to the Spartans.
Scots coach Brian Fischer that night got a first-hand look at the Spartans, who have steamrolled competition this season on their way to a perfect league record and a Wesco 3A title. He came away from the loss knowing deep down if Shorecrest played its best for four quarters his Scots could knock off Stanwood.
Shorecrest senior guard Malcolm Rosier-Butler delivered an outstanding performance, the Scots’ tight defense limited Stanwood to a season-low 52 points and Shorecrest pulled of a 55-52 win Friday night to capture the Class 3A District 1 championship at Jackson High School, handing the Spartans their first loss in Washington state this season.
“It’s huge. It’s a lot of fun,” said an exuberant Fischer, who looked on as his players one-by-one took turns cutting pieces of the net. “Stanwood is a great opponent. A lot of teams have had a hard time staying close with them, so we just challenged our guys to go out and play tonight. Go out and do what you know you can do. They dug in and got the job done.”
Rosier-Butler scored a game-high 24 points, which all came during the final three quarters, and Shorecrest (21-2) big man Philip Pepple had 10 points to go with eight rebounds. But arguably no one was more clutch than Scots guard Chris Lee, who capped a 9-0 scoring run with a huge 3-pointer from the left wing that gave Shorecrest a 53-50 lead with 56 seconds to play.
Lee hadn’t made a field goal until that point, but Fischer said his junior is no stranger to capitalizing in critical moments.
“Last year we won the (2A) district championship against Squalicum, and he hadn’t hit a shot during the game and he hit two in overtime,” Fischer said. “We have total confidence in Chris. He is confident in himself, and he is not going to pass up that shot even if he’s missed some.”
Stanwood’s AJ Martinka pulled the Spartans within one on the next possession, converting a layup off a spin move. The 6-foot-6 senior guard was fouled on the shot, but missed the free throw, leaving Stanwood’s deficit at 53-52 with :46 to play.
Martinka had one more opportunity to give Stanwood (21-2) the lead after stealing a pass with under 20 seconds to play. Martinka drove the length of the floor, but missed a tough, acrobatic layup with 10 seconds remaining. Shorecrest rebounded, and Rosier-Butler knocked down two free throws after being fouled, giving the Scots a 55-52 lead with 7.5 seconds to go. Stanwood’s Bryson Kelley got off a decent look for 3 on the ensuing possession but couldn’t connect as time expired.
Martinka, who had two big dunks, and Chase Strieby both scored 12 points for the Spartans, who snapped a 15-game win streak with the loss. Their only defeat of the season came during a holiday tournament in California back on Dec. 27.
Stanwood led by as many as 10 points early in the second quarter, but Rosier-Butler sparked the Scots, leading them on an 11-0 run that gave Shorecrest a 25-24 lead with 4:15 to play until halftime. Rosier-Butler scored 13 of his 24 points in the second.
The Scots led at half 30-27 and maintained a narrow lead throughout the third quarter until a collection of Spartans began contributing and gave Stanwood a 50-44 advantage with 2:50 to play.
Again, Rosier-Butler helped Shorecrest come charging back. He hit three consecutive free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer and added another free throw to tie the game at 50 with 1:47 to play after Steven Lin hit a clutch mid-range jumper. Lee’s pivotal 3-pointer then put the Scots up for good.
“Honestly, I think we just had more guts tonight,” Fischer said. “After losing I think our guys took it to heart, and realized we need to play a lot better if we are going to beat them.”