Samiayah Tolliver led fourth-ranked Garfield with 19 points in a 57-40 win over Seattle Prep in the district title game.

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What’s even more scary about the Garfield High School girls basketball team this season compared to the one that surprised the Tacoma Dome on its way to the Class 3A state title game last season?

“We’re all just very unselfish, we have a better coaching staff and our teammates have all bought into the system,” said 6-foot-3 junior Dalayah Daniels, who is ranked as the No. 13 overall recruit in the country for the 2020 class by ESPN, and the second-best junior recruit in Washington behind Cashmere point guard Hailey Van Lith.

That’s why Daniels was held to nine points Monday and Garfield still surged late to beat Seattle Prep 57-40 at Sammamish High School for the Class 3A SeaKing District championship in its tuneup before the state tournament.

Samiayah Tolliver led fourth-ranked Garfield (21-2) with 19 points, Kira Wood added 13 and Faith Brantley scored 10.

The Bulldogs were No. 3 in the WIAA’s RPI rankings entering the game and are guaranteed a spot in the Tacoma Dome because they won’t fall out of the top eight.

Seattle Prep (19-4) will watch and wait. It entered Monday ranked sixth in the RPI rankings, but if it falls past eighth after its defeat against Garfield then it will have to play a loser-out game in the regional round of state if it wants to return to the Dome.

But if the RPIs hold, Seattle Prep will be preparing for its third game of the season against Garfield.

“I don’t know how many more cards we have left to show them,” Seattle Prep coach Brian Elsner said.

The Panthers trailed by 11 after the first quarter, but clawed back and with 5:35 remaining in the fourth quarter Bea Franklin’s three-point play cut it to 39-36. Franklin scored 10 points and Tamia Stricklin had 11 for Seattle Prep.

Except Wood, who last year played at Shorecrest, struck with back-to-back three-pointers for Garfield as the Bulldogs closed the game on an 18-4 run.

“They are really, really good,” Elsner said. “I tell everybody that if they’re not the best, they’re one of the three toughest teams in the state. They just do so many things other teams can’t do. So athletic and their guards are fantastic and they’re really well coached.”

And this is one year after Garfield reached the Class 3A state title before losing to Gig Harbor. The Bulldogs graduated six seniors from that team, including three starters, but this year they haven’t lost to an in-state opponent.

“This is new territory for them,” Garfield coach Marvin Hall said. “They’ve never been in the district finals. They didn’t beat Prep at all last year and now we’ve beat them twice and pulled off wins over West Seattle twice. That’s nice.

“And the difference is we don’t focus on just one player. A lot of people focus on Dalayah Daniels, but everybody shares the ball so much. Dalayah is the nationally ranked player but we don’t play like we have superstars.”