EVERETT—The 4A Wes-King District Championship Game between Woodinville and Glacier Peak at Everett Community College on Saturday, Feb. 22 was reminiscent of two prizefighters standing toe-to-toe exchanging blows.
Each team unleashing a flurry of jabs had the other on the ropes but when the buzzer sounded it was the Falcons cutting down the net.
“It was a great team win for us,” Coach Scott Bullock said. “We made some mistakes early on—we trailed the entire first half—and then Mia (Hughes) fouled out near the end of regulation play. But our girls showed a lot of heart— were resilient and we got it done.”
No. 1 ranked Woodinville was out of sync in the opening minutes of the game turning the ball over twice, allowing a shot clock violation, and missing two free throws in the Falcons’ first five possessions.
Glacier Peak took advantage of the miscues and got out to a 7-0 lead.
The Falcons finally got on the board at the midpoint of the first quarter on a bucket from Hughes. A layup from Veronica Sheffey and a basket from Brooke Beresford narrowed the gap to 7-6 Grizzlies.
Glacier Peak regrouped and stretched its lead to 12-7, but Woodinville answered the call to get within two, 14-12, at the end of the quarter.
Beresford hit the first bucket of the second quarter to knot it 14-all. The Grizzlies heated up a bit going on a 12-5 run to close out the first half, capped off by a 3-point bucket from long range by Elyse Wadal at the buzzer to take a 26-19 score into the locker room.
“I told the girls we wanted to try and cut the lead to two points by the end of the third quarter and then go into the fourth quarter like it was anybody’s game,” Bullock said. “They came out with a lot of energy and continued that in the fourth and it looked like we were going to pull away, but we made some mistakes and it looked like we were going to give it back to them.”
The initial turning point for the Falcons allowing them back in the contest took place during the third quarter when Woodinville held Glacier Peak to five points over a five-minute span while dropping down 11 points to make it a 31-30 ballgame.
The Grizzlies edged out front 38-36 with time winding down. But Tatum Thompson got a shooter’s bounce on a shot from beyond the arc to give the Falcons their first lead of the game, 39-38 as the quarter came to an end.
Glacier Peak scored the first basket of the fourth quarter. Back-to-back buckets from Beresford including one from 3-point range and a score from Thompson made it 46-40 Woodinville with just over five minutes left in regulation play.
Another trey from Beresford and a bucket from Hughes pushed the score to 51-48 Falcons with 1:08 left on the clock. A Woodinville turnover and a Glacier Peak breakaway basket got the Grizzlies within a point, 51-50 with 45 seconds to go.
Hughes was whistled for her fifth foul of the game 15 seconds later and had to take a seat on the bench.
Glacier Peak turned the ball over with 11 seconds left and immediately fouled Sheffey sending her to the charity stripe for a one plus the penalty opportunity.
Sheffey made the front end of the 1-and-1 to put the Falcons up 52-50, but the rebound on the missed shot went off Beresford’s leg and out of bounds with nine seconds to play and gave the Grizzlies one last opportunity to somehow tie the game and send it to overtime.
And as luck would have it, Aaliyah Collins got a shot off at the buzzer that went off the backboard and through the net and the game went to an extra four-minute period.
Woodinville got the tip but came up empty turning the ball over on a shot-clock violation. Glacier Peak rolled snake eyes on its first possession.
Natalie Bright knocked down the first bucket in O.T. to give the Falcons a 54-52 lead with just under two minutes to play.
The Grizzlies Maya Erling drained a trey to put Glacier Peak up 55-54 with 1:20 left on the clock and brought the Woodinville fans to the edge of their seats willing their team to victory.
A made free-throw by Sheffey and two from Jaela Eggers with 25 seconds to go gave the Falcons a 58-55 lead.
Glacier Peak was unable to convert on its next possession and Sheffey was fouled and sent to the line once again. She calmly sank both attempts to put Woodinville up by five points with 15 seconds on the clock.
The Grizzlies got within three points on a made basket seven seconds later. Woodinville then called a timeout to talk strategy.
With not much more than a prayer left, Glacier Peak fouled Sheffey on the inbounds pass and was hoping she’d fold under pressure at the charity stripe. But Sheffey showed everyone in the gym what she was made of and sank both shots to ice the game, 62-57.
“Their fans were so loud when I was at the line, but I just wanted to win this game, so I knew I had to knock those last two down,” Sheffey said. “It was tough going into O.T. without Mia, but that’s why we play as a team. Everyone else stepped up and that’s how we got the win and it feels great.”
Beresford knocked down 12 points. Hughes added 11 and Thompson finished with 8.
The win nailed down the second consecutive district championship for the 25-0 Falcons.
The team now moves on to Regionals and will play Rogers of Puyallup at Sammamish High School on Saturday at 8 p.m.
Win or lose Woodinville moves on to State action at the Tacoma Dome.