The Grizzly boys and girls earn spots at the Tacoma Dome in March.
EVERETT — Paisley Johnson, Samantha Fatkin and Kayla Watkins, all seniors on the Glacier Peak girls basketball team, have waited a long time for the moment they got on Thursday night.
The three have played for the Grizzlies since they were freshmen. They’ve won a lot of games, but the one thing that has eluded the trio is a trip to the Tacoma Dome for the state championships. They took care of that with a 60-41 victory over Lake Stevens (17-4) in the Class 4A Northwest District championship game at Jackson High School.
“I’m really excited for Paisley, Sammy, Kayla and all my seniors,” Glacier Peak coach Brian Hill said. “That’s everyone’s goal coming into (the season) is to get to Tacoma. We’ve had our sights a little higher. I’ve been there, the girls haven’t, but the two times we were there we were two-and-out. That’s not our goal. That’s not my goal. They wanted to get there, I’m trying to set their sights a little higher to make sure that we stay competitive and take care of business once we’re there.”
The Grizzlies (21-1), who have won 21 consecutive games, still have a state regional game to play next weekend, but because they are fourth in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s RPI rankings, they have already qualified to play in the Tacoma Dome.
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The Grizzlies last made it to the Tacoma Dome in 2013. They lost at regionals in 2014 and 2015.
Glacier Peak closed the second quarter on a 19-4 run to take a 35-18 lead at halftime, but the Vikings cut the deficit to five in the third quarter. The Grizzlies, led by Fatkin, Johnson and Watkins, countered with an 11-0 run that spanned the final moments of the third and early moments of the fourth quarters to put the game away.
Johnson finished with 23 points, Fatkin added 20 and Watkins chipped in 11.
“They have a lot of composure,” Hill said. “When they’re on the court, there is just a demeanor about them. They don’t panic. A couple of years ago I would see them panic, but now they just have this composure that things are OK and we’re under control.”
It was a good night to be a Glacier Peak fan. Nearly two hours after the girls beat Lake Stevens, the Glacier Peak boys team beat Monroe (17-6) in the Northwest District boys championship game, 56-45.
It was a tightly contested game throughout, but the Grizzlies (19-3) pulled away late in the fourth quarter to earn a state regional berth and a trip to the Tacoma Dome.
“It’s awesome,” Glacier Peak coach Brian Hunter said. “The kids, it’s one of the best groups I’ve ever had as far as sharing the ball, playing together and playing hard. They earned it. Monroe is really talented.”
The Grizzlies exhibited their balance by having four players score in double figures; junior Bobby Martin led the way with 17.
After the game, players from the boys and girls teams celebrated their championships and the opportunity to play in the Tacoma Dome. The boys are ninth in the RPI, but they move up as No. 6 Skyview lost in its district tournament. The top eight teams are assured at least one game at the state tournament.
“I don’t know how many times that will ever happen,” Hunter said of both teams winning districts. “Probably not a lot. Our girls are such a good basketball team, and I know our team and their team are close and they like each other. This is a great school, and it’s kind of cool to have two squads down there.”