SNOHOMISH – The fans that attended the Snohomish-Stanwood boys basketball game may have gotten a taste of what’s to come.
Elizabeth Armstrong / The Herald
Elizabeth Armstrong / The Herald
A loud rambunctious crowd, thirty-two minutes of physical basketball, and the home team making an almost improbable comeback, is just a preview of what playoff basketball is all about.
And that is just what the crowd got Thursday night when they witnessed the Snohomish Panthers defeat the Stanwood Spartans 55-51 in a Western Conference North Division game at Snohomish High School.
In front of a spirited Senior Night crowd, the Panthers used a 22-point third quarter to hand the Spartans their second straight heartbreaking defeat.
Snohomish (14-2 in league, 18-2 overall), which finished as co-champion of the Wesco North, clinched the No. 2 seed and, just like last season, hosts Meadowdale in the opening round of the Class 4A District 1 tournament Wednesday night.
Stanwood (10-6, 12-8), which had clinched its first district berth in two years, finished as the North No. 4 and will play at Jackson Wednesday night.
After dropping to Cascade 77-76 on Tuesday, Stanwood gave up a 16-point third quarter lead, letting the game slip from its hands late.
The Spartans controlled the first 20 minutes of the game, taking advantage of a change in the Panthers starting lineup – Snohomish started five seniors on Senior Night – to jump out to an 8-0 lead.
“We started off playing really well. You could tell they were out of rhythm and timing with the different lineup and we were playing with confidence,” said Stanwood coach Brian Hunter.
Behind 15 first-half points from Derek Anderson, the Spartans took a 33-20 halftime lead, quieting the Snohomish faithful.
Anderson finished with a game-high 21 points but was held to six in the final half.
“For the first 21 minutes or so, we didn’t make any stops,” Snohomish coach Len Bone said.
“Stanwood was running their offense better than we were defending,” Bone added.
After halftime, the Spartans continued their aggressive play, taking a 36-20 lead early in the third quarter.
That’s when the Snohomish Panthers started playing what senior Seth Follis called “Panther basketball.”
The Panthers nibbled away at the Spartans lead, putting together an 11-1 run midway through the third quarter.
Sophomore Zach Wilde’s 3-pointer with 1:47 remaining cut the Spartan lead to 44-37 and brought the Panther crowd back to life.
After Spartan’s guard Tyler Monroe hit a jumper to extend the lead to 46-37, the Panthers scored the final five points of the quarter – none bigger than a Follis 3-pointer with five seconds remaining.
The shot cut the lead to four points at 46-42 and ignited the Panther crowd that had come out to congratulate the seniors in their final regular season game.
Follis finished with five third quarter points and Wilde scored eight of his 14 in the period.
But Follis wasn’t finished.
Trailing by four, Follis scored on a lay-in to cut the Stanwood lead to 48-46 then stuck a dagger in the heart of the Spartans with a 3-pointer with 3:21 remaining giving the Panthers their first lead of the game at 49-48.
“It felt good (hitting the shot). We needed a lift,” Follis said. “We started off sloppy and needed to wake up.”
The guard finished with a team-high 15 points.
For the final three minutes the Panthers controlled the ball and the clock. They also got help from poor free-throw shooting down the stretch for the Spartans. Stanwood shot 1-for-3 on the front-end of 1-on-1 situations.
The game was a microcosm of the season as a whole for Stanwood. The Spartans finished with six losses in Wesco North play, four by five points or less.
“We hope to learn from these close games and apply it to the next round,” Hunter said.
Both coaches realize that tomorrow starts a new season.
“It’s like starting over,” Hunter said.
“Everybody starts out fresh next week,” Bone said.
Playoff basketball is here and if this was a preview of what’s to come then we’re in for a treat.
At Snohomish High School
Stanwood-Anderson 21, Boehme 13, Monroe 8, Cayford 5, Gambill 2, Lipinski 2. Snohomish-Follis 15, Wilde 14, Diederichs 10, VanDuine 7, Desimone 3, Jenkins 2, Shilling 2, Williams 2. 3-pointers-Cayford 1, Anderson 1, Wilde 2, Follis 3. Records-Stanwood 10-6 in league, 12-8 overall. Snohomish 14-2, 18-2.