SNOHOMISH — Practices were scarce and game action was nonexistent due to the recent snowstorms that struck the Puget Sound area.
But the Snohomish girls basketball team’s vaunted defense hardly skipped a beat as the third-seeded Panthers forced 25 turnovers Wednesday in a 3A Northwest District tournament contest against sixth-seeded Ferndale.
“I was real happy with the way our kids came out,” Snohomish coach Ken Roberts said after his team’s 47-34 victory. “We wanted to come out pressing from the very start. We tried to sub kids in pretty quick because you get pretty tired after a break like that.
“I thought we got tired and had to get away from some of the pressing in the second half just to save our legs. We had some kids pretty gassed in the second half. But we played hard early (and) committed to playing good defense throughout the game.”
The Panthers practiced just three times since their last game, Feb. 1 against Arlington, due to school closures. Ferndale was in a similar situation with its practice schedule and hadn’t seen game action since its 60-46 loss to Lynden on Jan. 31.
“It’s going to be that way for everybody in the district playoffs, and that’s a tough situation to be in,” Roberts said.
Even with inclement weather squelching practice time, the Panthers tried their best to stay fresh, hanging out during snow days and getting shots up at the local YMCA, according to seniors Maya DuChesne and Courtney Perry.
That’s because the Panthers don’t want a repeat of last season. Snohomish captured the Wesco 3A/2A title with ease after an undefeated campaign in league play, but dropped its final two games in the district tournament, ending a three-year streak of advancing to at least the state regional round.
“We didn’t want to put in the same situation last year. We really didn’t like how that felt,” DuChesne said. “We know that this year we really have to work for it. Every possession matters. Every game matters. I think we put in a little bit of an extra effort after what had happened last year.”
The Panthers will have a chance to clinch a state regional berth Friday. Snohomish will face the winner of second-seeded Shorecrest and seventh-seeded Stanwood (those two meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday) in a district semifinal contest.
After the Golden Eagles scored the first basket of Wednesday’s game, Snohomish ripped off a 14-0 run en route to building a 17-6 first quarter lead.
The Panthers were able to maintain their double-digit lead heading into halftime as DuChesne drilled a fall away 3-pointer at the buzzer to put Snohomish up 26-14.
Buzzer beater! Maya DuChesne with a fallaway 3-pointer to provide @snohopanthers a 26-14 lead over Ferndale at the half.
— Josh Horton (@JoshHortonEDH) February 13, 2019
Snohomish took its foot off the gas due to some tired legs, but maintained a double-digit lead for the majority of the second half.
“This year’s team (was) able to gear up and be in pretty good shape and peak at the right time,” Roberts said. “It was hard with the break to know what we’d get, but I was happy with what we got from the kids.”
DuChesne led the Panthers with 12 points, and Perry scored 10.
Ferndale’s Kim Weden led all scorers with 13 off the bench.