Glacier Peak takes fourth place at state tourney | Girls basketball
Last updated 3/15/2019 at Noon
Glacier Peak’s prospects for a victory in its final game of the season looked bleak.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies trailed Central Valley by 11 points in the fourth/sixth place 4A state girls basketball tournament game.
Glacier Peak coach Brian Hill had a simple message to his players at the end of the third quarter.
“Hill just said to have fun,” senior Haley Grambo recalled. “We just wanted to play together and have fun for the last eight minutes. We’re not having fun if we’re not doing well. We decided to push it and have fun.”
Impending disappointment soon turned into pure joy and excitement as the Grizzlies went on a 17-4 run and took a 54-53 lead on a shot by sophomore Maya Erling.
Sophomore Aaliyah Collins and junior Shay Sande then each added two free throws in the final 15 seconds.
Glacier Peak’s suffocating defense prevented Central Valley from even attempting a shot in their last two offensive possessions and the Grizzlies ended their season with 58-53 victory Saturday, March 2, in the Tacoma Dome.
Sydney Guffey, who along with Grambo were the lone seniors, was glad to end her high school career on a winning note.
“No one in GP has gone out on a win except for us,” Guffey said. “So I’m pretty proud of our team and all the work we’ve put in this season.”
Hill, whose voice was hoarse after four games in the Tacoma Dome, was all smiles at the end.
“What a great way to go out,” he said. “What a fantastic season. I couldn’t be more pleased.”
The Grizzlies (23-4) outscored Central Valley 21-4 in the fourth quarter. Glacier Peak’s pressure defense played a key role in a 53-51 win over Woodinville in a consolation matchup on Friday, March 1. Glacier Peak stole the ball on the Falcons’ final offensive possession, denying them an opportunity to either tie or win the game.
“The defense really stepped up again, kind of like yesterday (against Woodinville),” Hill said. “We just locked things down and made things difficult for them. We were able to keep it going and made some good buckets down the stretch to keep it close. We made some clutch free throws.”
Defense also helped the Grizzlies beat Chiawana 58-49 in double-overtime in a first-round contest on Wednesday, March 27. In its 48-38 quarterfinal loss to Lewis and Clark, Glacier Peak held their opponent well under its 63.3 points per game season average.
The Grizzlies feed off of each other when they have success on defense.
“We just all like to work hard for each other and we don’t do it for ourselves,” Guffey said. “That’s just what we take pride in. We just like to get up in people’s faces and don’t let anyone score on us.”
Erling led Glacier Peak with 19 points against Central Valley. Collins finished with 12 points and Sande had 10 points. Erling also had 10 points against Woodinville and had 14 in the loss to Lewis and Clark.
“Maya is one of those players that everybody likes to have because she does a lot of the hard work,” Hill said. “She keeps balls alive. She gets huge rebounds. She gives it 100 percent effort and it’s been a fantastic season for her. I’m really excited for her for the next couple of years.”
Collins averaged 14.5 points per game in the tournament, often using her speed to her advantage.
“She’s so fast and she can, when she really wants to, put it in afterburners and blow by a lot people and she did,” Hill said. “Her game keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
Grambo knew that Collins had all the tools to become a great player even coming in as a freshman. All Collins needed was time.
“Now she’s just comfortable,” Grambo said. “She can go around anybody. She can play great defense. It’s just confidence and maturity. She’s just grown up a lot as a player. Now she has experience playing at the dome. The sky’s the limit for her and the rest of the team.”
Hill appreciated the leadership of Grambo and Guffey, who played a steadying influence on a team with six sophomores.
“Just their senior leadership and their maturity really carried us this year,” Hill said. “We’ll definitely miss those two.”
Walking off the court the final time was a little bittersweet for Guffey.
“I’m sad it’s our last game. I’m just happy we got out with a win,” she said. “It was emotional.”
Grambo said that the bond forged this season is strong.
“I don’t think there’s another team that loves each other as deeply as our team does,” she said. “And the fact that we didn’t know each other a year prior. We weren’t close at all. We just came together and meshed really well. We love each other and that’s never going to change.”