Grizzlies win inaugural Top of the Peak tournament | Girls basketball

Glacier Peak rallies to beat Lewis Clark
By David Pan | Jan 04, 2019
Photo by: David R Pan Glacier Peak’s Malia Smith reaches for the ball duriing a Top of the Peak tournament game against Peninsula.

The championship game was starting to slip away from the Glacier Peak girls basketball team.

The Grizzlies’ 21-19 halftime lead against Lewis and Clark had turned into a 35-29 deficit by the end of the third quarter. A big part of the reason why Glacier Peak was outscored 16-8 in the third period was due to some self-inflicted problems.

“They started getting chippy with each other a little bit,” Glacier Peak coach Brian Hill said of his players. “I told them our biggest competitor is on the other side. But if we were competing with ourselves that makes it really difficult to beat the other team. So we had to fight through it.”

The Grizzlies regrouped and dominated the fourth quarter, erasing the 6-point deficit with a 20-5 performance to defeat the Tigers 49-40 and claim the title at the inaugural Top of the Peak Holiday tournament Saturday, Dec. 29, at Glacier Peak High School.

Sophomore guard Aaliyah Collins said that the Grizzlies came out with energy in the fourth quarter.

“All of our energy for our whole team, we just built off of it,” she said. “When we got steals, we build off of that more and it kept our momentum going.”

Collins, who finished with a team-high 13 points, scored the first four points of the fourth quarter – two free throws and a 2-point shot – and then had an offensive rebound and an assist to sophomore Madison Rubino, who made a basket to tie the score at 34 less than two minutes into the final period.

Rubino scored 7 of her 10 points in the fourth quarter.

“She’s done a great job the last couple of games,” Hill said. “Just her length and size helps us definitely on the inside and she’s made some big buckets down the stretch. She gets quality rebounds.”

Glacier Peak cranked up the defensive pressure on its opponent and Lewis and Clark didn’t handle it well.

“We were behind, so we had to turn up our pressure a little bit,” Hill said. “Once we turned up our pressure, we started moving ourselves pretty well. Offensively, I still I still think we struggled, but their defense is really good. We were able to put a little more pressure on them, turn them over. It is uncharacteristic of what they’re used to and we were able to finish on the other team a couple of times.”

Collins agreed that Glacier Peak’s defense helped fuel the fourth-quarter rally.

“It’s not just one of us. Our whole team is very aggressive,” she said. “Once we get steals … it makes us even more aggressive and we just get really motivated.”

Glacier Peak opened with a 76-61 victory over Peninsula. Collins scored 19 points and senior Haley Grambo added 15. Rubino then scored 19 points to lead the Grizzlies past Sunnyside 51-34 in a semifinal matchup.

The Grizzlies’ success against some of the top teams in the state is encouraging to Collins. Lewis and Clark eliminated Glacier Peak in last year’s state regionals.

“I have a lot of hope,” Collins said. “We’re a lot better than last year. … We have a great chemistry that really helps us on and off the court.”

The Grizzlies (9-1) face a tough test against Jackson (8-2) in their first game of the New Year at 7:15 p.m., Friday, Jan. 4, at Glacier Peak High School.

A month and a half into the season, Hill likes the way the Grizzlies are coming together.

“They’re a fun group to coach. They work hard,” he said. “We’re getting better each day and that’s the goal – to get better each day. We want to be playing our best basketball in March.”

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