Stanwood’s bench cheers its team against Auburn on Wednesday evening in Tacoma. The Spartans advance with their 53-39 victory over the Trojans. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Stanwood’s bench cheers its team against Auburn on Wednesday evening in Tacoma. The Spartans advance with their 53-39 victory over the Trojans. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Stanwood girls overcome choppy start, beat Auburn to advance

The Spartans pull away in the second half to win 53-39 and will face No. 1 Mead in the 3A quarterfinals on Thursday.

TACOMA — The Stanwood girls basketball team delivered a bit of a Jekyl and Hyde first half against Auburn on Wednesday.

The Spartans raced out to an early lead with 10 quick points and proceeded to go almost an entire quarter without putting the ball in the basketball immediately after. Then, the Spartans rattled off eight points in the final two minutes of the first half to take a lead into the break.

After an up-and-down performance early, Stanwood righted the ship in the second half and it was smooth sailing from there on out.

Junior Grace Walker scored 11 of her game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter, Vivienne Berrett posted a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds and seventh-seeded Stanwood pulled away in the second half for a 53-39 victory over 10th-seeded Auburn in the first round of the Class 3A Hardwood Classic at the Tacoma Dome.

Stanwood’s Vivienne Berrett attempts a shot over Auburn’s Chloe Furnstahl on Wednesday evening in Tacoma. The Spartans advance with their 53-39 victory over the Trojans. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Stanwood’s Vivienne Berrett attempts a shot over Auburn’s Chloe Furnstahl on Wednesday evening in Tacoma. The Spartans advance with their 53-39 victory over the Trojans. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

“You get a win in March (and) you’re happy with it no matter what,” first-year Spartans coach Alex Iverson said. “That second quarter was a little slow for us. I think we started off hot and then we kind of (had) the nerves (catch) up to us for a little bit. But we talked at halftime (about) rebounding. I’m telling you right now, if you want to win here you’ve got to rebound on both ends of the court. So, we made an emphasis on it at halftime and the girls responded great.”

Berrett added four assists while often drawing double teams as Auburn tried to find a way to stop the 6-foot-4 junior. That opened up shots from the outside for the Spartans, who knocked down nine 3-pointers — including 5 of 9 in the second half — compared to three by the Trojans. Walker led the way by hitting 4 of 5 from beyond the arc.

“I hit that first one and I just couldn’t stop hitting them,” said Walker, who scored the game’s first points on a 3-pointer.

Tatum Brager chipped in six points — both coming on 3s — and Ava Cook had four points, six rebounds and three assists for the Spartans (13-5).

Stanwood scored the game’s first eight points and led 10-2 at the 4:23 mark of the first but went ice cold after. The Spartans suffered a scoreless drought that lasted nearly an entire quarter before Walker sank a triple with 4:33 left in the second.

Auburn (16-8) was just as cold, though, scoring just four points in the first quarter before finding a bit of a groove second when the Trojans used a 14-3 run to secure an 18-13 lead. But Stanwood answered back with eight straight points to end the half, including five from Ava DePew.

Stanwood came out firing on all cylinders to start the second half. Brager banked in a 3-pointer to ignite a 14-4 Spartans run that included triples by Paige Almanza and Cezanne DePew.

Walker hit her third and fourth 3-pointers and Ava Cook hit a jumper as the Spartans pushed their lead to 46-29 midway through the fourth.

Stanwood’s Chloe Santeford looks to pass along the baseline with Auburn’s Jaylah Brown trailing Wednesday evening in Tacoma. The Spartans advance with their 53-39 victory over the Trojans. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Stanwood’s Chloe Santeford looks to pass along the baseline with Auburn’s Jaylah Brown trailing Wednesday evening in Tacoma. The Spartans advance with their 53-39 victory over the Trojans. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The Trojans showed some life when Chloe Furnstahl hit back-to-back 3s and Rachel Crook sank two free throws to cut their deficit to 46-37 with just under three minutes left. But it was too little, too late for Auburn and Stanwood held on for the win.

Furnstahl had 12 points and eight rebounds and Madelyn Brown added 11 points and seven rebounds to pace the Trojans.

Stanwood moves on to the quarterfinals to face No. 1 Mead at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

“We have to play our game,” Iverson said about facing the tournament’s top-seeded team. “When we rebound and we share the ball as a team, I think we can compete with anybody in the state, and I really truly believe that because we have the depth and the athletes.”

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