STANWOOD — With an outright conference title at stake, Stanwood’s exceptional senior class delivered yet another impressive performance.
Stanwood star Chase Strieby led a balanced attack with 18 points as the sixth-ranked Spartans captured the Wesco 3A crown with a 75-61 senior-night win over ninth-ranked Shorecrest on Tuesday night in front of a raucous crowd at Stanwood High School.
The victory gave the Spartans’ senior class a 44-1 conference record in four seasons.
“It speaks more to them than it does to me,” Stanwood coach Zach Ward said of his seniors’ accomplishments. “They’re just competitors, and they were really excited tonight.”
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Strieby added. “It’s amazing knowing that we set a mark in Stanwood. … It’s what we’ve been working for all our lives, playing together. It’s big.”
Strieby, a 6-foot-6 forward, was one of six Stanwood seniors to score at least eight points in Tuesday’s de-facto Wesco 3A title game. AJ Martinka, another 6-foot-6 forward, added 11 points. Henry Oldow scored all nine of his points in the first half, while Cameron Plautz scored all nine of his in the second half. Bryson Kelley and Austin Wilhonen each finished with eight points for the Spartans.
Stanwood’s balanced offensive attack has seen 11 different players score in double figures this season. The Spartans showcased their array of firepower Tuesday, expertly distributing the ball within their fast-paced offense to regularly find high-percentage shots.
“I think that speaks to what kind of kids they are,” Ward said. “We don’t have one kid in there who’s worried about getting his points. … We’re at our best when we’re sharing the ball and making the extra pass.”
Stanwood scored at least 75 points for the 13th time this season and the 10th time in 12 conference games. The high-powered Spartans (19-1 overall, 12-0 Wesco 3A) finish the regular season with 19 double-digit victories in 20 games and having outscored opponents by an average of 25.3 points per contest, including 32.3 points per game in conference play.
“Our momentum is going strong right now,” Strieby said.
Shorecrest (18-2, 10-2) lost for the first time since falling to Mountlake Terrace in its Dec. 13 conference opener, ending a 13-game winning streak. The Scots finished second in the Wesco 3A standings.
Chris Lee led Shorecrest with 16 points, while Malcolm Rosier-Butler scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half. Shorecrest 6-foot-8 junior center Phillip Pepple energized the visiting fans with three dunks and finished with 11 points, but was limited to just three second-half points by Stanwood’s lengthy frontcourt.
“I thought we did a pretty good job on him,” Ward said. “He had a couple pretty great dunks, but only a couple. We didn’t let him get loose.”
Both teams stormed out of the gates for a thrilling start, with each side scoring 14 points in the game’s first four minutes.
Stanwood built a six-point lead in the second quarter, but Shorecrest answered with seven straight points to gain a one-point edge. Oldow then drilled a pair of 3-pointers late in the half — the latter with five seconds remaining — to give the Spartans a 43-40 halftime lead.
Stanwood began pulling away in the third quarter, using its halfcourt-trap defense to force a string of turnovers that were converted into transition baskets.
Martinka capped a 12-4 third-quarter run with a steal and assist to Plautz, who finished the play with a transition lay-in that gave the Spartans a 55-44 lead with less than three minutes left in the period. Plautz had eight points during the pivotal stretch.
Rosier-Butler opened the fourth quarter with a nice up-and-under lay-in to cut the deficit to 57-51, but that was the closest Shorecrest came for the rest of the night.
“They have really good pressure and really quick hands,” Shorecrest coach Brian Fischer said of Stanwood. “They’ve done this to opponents all year long.
“You kind of break (the pressure) for a while and you’re able to move it, but eventually it gets to you. And then you (commit) a few turnovers in a row, you get a little bit more nervous about passing the ball, and then they go on a run. I think that happened to us, so just live and learn.”
Both teams will host a first-round district playoff game on Saturday against one of Friday’s play-in winners.