KENT – The Stanwood High School boys basketball team had been in the same position last season, and failed. That loss stayed with the Spartans, and pushed them this season.
The Spartans weren’t about to let another opportunity to get to the Tacoma Dome and the Class 3A state tournament slip away.
This time, thanks to the inside-out combination of 5-10 Josh Thayer and 6-5 Skout Roberson, sixth-ranked Stanwood exorcised some demons with a 73-55 victory over Foss of Tacoma in a Class 3A regional game at Kent-Meridian High School on Saturday.
Roberson supplied 21 points and 11 rebounds and Thayer poured in four three-pointers en route to 19 points. But Thayer’s biggest contribution might have been on defense against the Falcons’ 6-5 Armond Davis, who was slowed at times but managed 22 points.
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The Spartans (24-1) built a big first-half lead against Franklin in the 3A regional final last season only to see it slip away in a 76-64 defeat. This time, Stanwood built a nice cushion, let it shrink before pulling away to return to Tacoma for the first time since 2010.
“Last year was just a really disappointing end,” Thayer said. “This year, we just didn’t want to repeat that. I told the guys before the game that I didn’t want any of that stuff that happened last year to affect this year.”
The win moved the Spartans one step closer to returning the program to the heights of the Ryan Appleby era. Stanwood’s best state finishes came when it finished sixth in 2001 in 3A and 2002 in 4A and qualifying in 2010 in 4A.
“Those years were really special,” Stanwood coach Zach Ward said. “This is rewarding. It’s four seniors (Thayer, Ian Zipp, Drew Stang and Brady Garcea) who have been on the floor for me three or four years. Things turned out the way they wanted this year.
“This is a really emotional sport. On my mind, wanting something so bad for a group of boys is what it was. I don’t have boys. They are my 12 boys. I think that’s what the emotion was afterward.”
The Spartans opened a 27-13 lead, thanks to a 21-4 run, but Foss battled back to close the gap to 29-25 at halftime. Davis, who had 16 points in the first half, nailed a three-pointer with 1.8 seconds left before intermission to get Foss closer.
Roberson rang up 15 points before the halftime break to lead Stanwood.
Foss closed within 34-33 with 5:10 left in the third on Sam Dabalos-McMahon’s jumper, but the Spartans responded with an 11-3 run to stretch the lead back to nine at 45-36.
A 16-6 spurt that started early in the fourth quarter slammed the door on the Falcons’ comeback hopes.