EVERETT — As if a state tournament berth wasn’t enough motivation for Shorecrest during its district semifinal matchup against Snohomish, the Scots found themselves with an opportunity to avenge their only loss in 21 games this season.
That defeat came courtesy of the Panthers way back on Jan. 3.
With much more on the line this time, the Wesco 2A/3A champions started fast, held off a late Snohomish surge and earned a 48-36 state-berth-clinching win Tuesday night at Mariner High School.
“At the end of the year is where you want to get those quality wins,” said Shorecrest coach Carlos Humphrey. “We prepared for it. We kind of knew what they were going to come out with. We executed well. I think defensively is really where we turned it on.”
The win gave Shorecrest (21-1) its second state regional berth in the past three seasons and set up a district title game with Arlington at 6 p.m. Saturday at Everett Community College. The Scots will enter on a 14-game winning streak, and the Eagles have won 15 in a row.
Junior center Kiana Lino scored a game-high 15 points, with 13 coming in the first half. Senior guard Sydney VanNess finished with 12 points and was particularly effective in the fourth quarter, scoring eight points. Ella Gallatin recorded a team-high 13 points for the Panthers.
The loss for Snohomish (11-11) sends the Panthers to a loser-out game against Edmonds-Woodway at 6 p.m. Thursday at Shorewood High School. Snohomish will need to win that game and one more to earn District 1’s final 3A state berth.
Shorecrest’s defense shined early. The Scots held the Panthers to just four points through the game’s first nine minutes. That allowed Shorecrest to build a 13-4 early second-quarter lead.
Points from Snohomish’s Cheyenne Rodgers and Kaylin Beckman trimmed the Scots’ advantage to 20-16 with a minute to go until halftime, but Lino scored twice in the final 35 seconds to give Shorecrest a 24-16 halftime lead. Lino’s second basket, a layup as time expired, came after guard Leila Hosn dribbled the length of the floor before delivering a beautiful bounce pass to Lino.
The Scots’ largest third-quarter lead was 11 points, but Snohomish engineered a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to 35-31 with 4:20 to go in the game.
Needing to stem the Panthers’ momentum, VanNess delivered. The senior, on back-to-back possessions, found soft spots in Snohomish’s zone and knocked down two 16-footers. VanNess added a third consecutive field goal 30 seconds later, giving Shorecrest a 39-31 lead with 3:10 to play. Snohomish’s offense went cold down the stretch as the Scots put the game away.