Mariner makes memories at districts | Girls basketball

Marauders win 3 contests in playoffs
By David Robert Pan | Feb 21, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan Mariner’s Nia Hawkins, Hannah Hezekiah and Denisa Grebovic celebrate their team’s victory over Jackson at the 4A District tournament.

Mariner’s season came to an end against Glacier Peak, but Marauders still will be able to draw inspiration from the memories of an extended and satisfying playoff run.

The Grizzlies defeated Mariner 75-38 in a winner-to-state regionals/loser-out game Saturday, Feb. 17, at Everett Community College.

Glacier Peak jumped out to 18-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and extended the advantage to 39-17 at halftime.

“They got off to a solid start. We struggled matching them offensively,” Mariner coach Corey Gibb said. “We had some breakdowns and they were able to capitalize and take advantage of that.”

Though disappointed with the season-ending loss to the Vikings, the Marauders came into the postseason not having won a district playoff game in more than 20 years. They left with three victories – two against Jackson and one against district rival Kamiak.

“They were ecstatic with how their season went and how successful they were in bringing some pride back into the program,” Gibb said of his players.

A major reason for Mariner’s success in the postseason was the level-headed approach of the players.

“The girls did a good job of keeping their heads on straight,” Gibb said. “They stayed humble through the whole thing. They have lost. They know the struggles that can come with that. They don’t take any wins for granted. They continued to push themselves. I’m really proud of how they finished up the season.”

After losing to eventual district champion Lake Stevens in the semifinals, the Marauders rebounded with a 48-46 victory over district rival Kamiak in a loser-out game Tuesday, Feb. 13, at Everett Community.

The Knights had an opportunity to tie the score at the end of the game but missed a shot.

Mariner took a 44-33 lead into the fourth quarter but then was outscored 13-4 in the final period. The Knights tied at the score at 46 on a basket by Hunter Beirne at the 1:30 mark. Two free throws by freshman Taliyah Clark gave Mariner a 48-46 lead with 1:11 remaining. The Knights misfired on a 3-point shot to take the lead and then each team missed the front end on a pair of 1-and-1 free throw attempts.

“The difference was we played to win the game in the first half and even into the third quarter,” Gibb said. “Then that fourth quarter we kind of tightened up. Instead of playing to win, we just played not to lose it.”

But in the end, the Marauders (15-10) did just enough to pull out victory, Gibb added.

Clark scored 14 points and senior Nia Hawkins added 11.

“It means a lot because last year we lost to them and they eliminated us,” Clark said after the game. “We just don’t want to go home.”

Kamiak coach Brian Norman said that despite some offensive and defensive struggles, he was glad to see the Knights rally and be in a position to tie the score.

“We didn’t hit a lot of shots, but also the defense wasn’t quite what we expected,” Norman said.

Kamiak (11-11) gave up some transition baskets and didn’t rebound the ball well, he added.

“We got down by 13 at the most,” the Kamiak coach said. “And we battled all the way back and really had a chance there in the last possession to tie it.”

Mariner’s victory set up a fourth meeting with Jackson, which the Marauders won 56-50 in another loser-out game Thursday, Feb. 15, at Everett Community College. Mariner beat Jackson in the district opener.

Clark scored a game-high 25 points and senior Hannah Hezekiah added 15 points.

The Marauders took a 37-35 lead into the fourth quarter and stretched the advantage to 46-37 with just over three minutes remaining. Jackson (12-11) cut the Mariner lead to 50-45 with a minute remaining. The Marauders sealed the victory with four straight free throws in the final 18.4 seconds.

“We talked a lot about composure and staying focused from Tuesday’s game (against Kamiak) to tonight,” Gibb said. “I want to say that we learned from that experience.”

Senior Denisa Grebovic said the district tournament was an awesome experience that the players didn’t want to end.

“It’s just really exciting and all that excitement goes into the game,” she said. “It’s just a really cool opportunity and we didn’t want to let it slip out of our hands.”

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