TACOMA — With smothering defense and a strong performance from the Gallatin sisters, the Snohomish girls basketball team routed a conference rival to secure another piece of state hardware.
Ella and Kinslee Gallatin combined for 25 points as the 11th-seeded Panthers clinched their third state trophy in four years with a 45-21 win over 15th-seeded Edmonds-Woodway in a Class 3A Hardwood Classic consolation game Friday morning in the Tacoma Dome.
The victory advanced Snohomish to Saturday’s trophy round, where the Panthers will face ninth-seeded West Seattle at 8 a.m. in the fourth/sixth-place game. Snohomish was the 4A state runner-up in 2016 and placed third in 3A in 2017.
“We really wanted to get to Saturday,” Kinslee said. “Our goal every year is to get to Saturday, and we just came out, worked hard, powered through it and got the win.”
Both teams entered the all-Wesco consolation matchup having won elimination games Wednesday before falling in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
Snohomish used its stifling 2-3 zone defense and mixed in a bit of pressure to hold E-W — the highest-scoring team in Wesco 3A/2A — more than 34 points below its season scoring average. The Warriors’ previous season low was 38 points.
It was the sixth time this season the Panthers (18-8) have allowed less than 30 points.
“We’re a defensive team,” Kinslee said. “Our main focus is defense, and we just play as hard as we can every single game and just go all out. … We extended (our 2-3 zone) because we knew that they had super good 3-point shooters, so we just made sure that our wings were out wide.”
Snohomish limited E-W (15-11) to just four points in the game’s first 15 minutes and took a 21-7 lead into halftime. Less than three minutes into the second half, Kinslee hit a 3-pointer to stretch the margin to 28-9.
The Warriors trimmed the deficit to 34-21 by the end of the third quarter, but the Panthers put the game firmly out of reach while shutting out E-W in the final period.
The Warriors shot just 22 percent from the field, including 3 of 20 from 3-point range.
“When a shooting team doesn’t shoot well, you’re not going to win,” E-W coach Jon Rasmussen said. “Snohomish is a good team. … It was not our day.”
Ella, a freshman, led the Panthers with 14 points. Kinslee, a junior, hit three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points.
“The Gallatin family should be pretty happy tonight,” Snohomish coach Ken Roberts said.
Kinslee, who Roberts said is the Panthers’ best defensive player, missed the latter part of last season with an ACL injury and had to ease her way back during the first part of this season.
“That was really cool to see her make some shots today and help us out a lot on the offensive end,” Roberts said. “… It was a tough end (for her) last year, and to see a kid work as hard as she did — she never missed a practice, never missed a summer thing, was always on the bench with our kids, the ultimate teammate. It was great.”
For the Warriors, the loss marked a difficult and emotional end to what Rasmussen said had already been an adversity-filled season. Then came the news earlier this week, when the E-W coach said he found out his 92-year-old mother had potentially less than a week to live.
“We’ve gone through so much drama this year, and now for this to happen at the end of the year, it was really tough,” Rasmussen said. “But I couldn’t ask for a better team.
“I think emotionally we were tapped out,” he added. “It was tough. (The girls) have been backing me up, and I love these girls. They worked hard, and a month and a half ago, no one thought we’d be here. We battled, … (but) I think our gas tank finally went to empty.”