Editor’s note: This is the fifth of a five-part series on what Scorebook Live has selected as the Washington high school boys basketball story of the year this season. The 4A subjects are the Glacier Peak Grizzlies and Union Titans.
In 2009, Glacier Peakâ€™s first year open as a high school, the boys basketball team took fourth in state.
It was a proud moment for Brian Hunter, who was Glacier Peakâ€™s first and only head boys basketball coach, and one that 11 years later, he believes help set a tone for the type of program Glacier Peak would be: a consistent winner.
At the same time, some 200 miles south, another new program, Union, was doing the same, but with a yearlong head start.
This year, a balanced, defensive-minded Grizzlies group is 23-0, and enters the 4A state tournament as a 2-seed with a 4A Wesco and Wes-King district title under its belt to boast the programâ€™s best-ever record up until this point.
Both programs have been a mark of consistency in the more than a decade since the schools were founded. Union has made eight state tournaments and won a 3A title in its third year as a school.
â€œItâ€™s not normal what they did, or normal what we did when we start out,â€ Hunter said, â€œbut itâ€™s definitely something our program has used to continue that success level.â€
Glacier Peak has five state tournament appearances to its name, but its deepest run â€” a fourth and fifth place finish in back-to-back years â€” came in its second and third year as a school.
While the programs are similar in origin and trajectory, they differ in styles. Unionâ€™s up-tempo system is predicated on moving the ball â€” fast â€” scoring at a high clip and wearing defenses out.
Glacier Peak has prided itself on its defensive prowess, not necessarily doing the scoring. The Grizzlies held Inglemoor to a season-low 29 points in Fridayâ€™s Wes-King district title game.
On offense, they boast balance. Multi-year starters Brayden Corwin and Braeden Quantrille are in double-digits scoring, 6-foot-5 junior guard Tucker Molina as established himself as the teamâ€™s floor general and junior Bobby Siebers, who transferred from North Kitsap, has provided a shooting stroke, as well as a spark plug on defense (heâ€™s taken more than 35 charges this season).
“We don’t have a lot of D-I talent,” Molina said. “We’re more of a team. People aren’t preparing for one guy, they’ve just got to play hard.”
Even at 23-0, Molina feels Glacier Peak is underrated statewide.
“We play consistently good basketball,” Hunter said. “For 12 years, we’ve been a really good program and we’ve built on any chips we can use. People may think ‘oh, they got their wins playing in an area that isn’t very good.’ As coaches you use everything you can to prepare for the next game.”
Added Quantrille: “Actions speak louder than words. We can say we’re underrated, but we just need to go out there and prove it.”
Though the Grizzlies are also still searching for their first state championship, so is Unionâ€™s head coach Blake Conley, who was hired from 2A Kingston in 2013, and has led the Titans to several trophies.
This year, Hunterâ€™s 2-seed Grizzlies are positioned better than any other entering a seeding game against 7-seed Auburn. But theyâ€™ll have to get through Union, which has spent the year atop the Scorebook Live coaches poll as well as the RPI throughout the season, and in part on the back of the emergence of senior guard Tanner Toolson, who was named Washingtonâ€™s â€˜Mr. Basketballâ€™ this week, has picked up comfortable wins over tournament teams Mount Si, North Kitsap (2A), Gonzaga Prep, Evergreen (3A), Olympia, Sumner, Skyview and Battle Ground.
Hunter and Conley know each other from coaching and have scheduled home-and-homes each of the last three seasons.
â€œWhat theyâ€™ve done is just have the next guys move up,â€ Conley said. â€œAnd thatâ€™s what weâ€™ve done at Union. Iâ€™ve heard people say â€˜I thought you guys were going to be down because you lost this guy and this guy,â€™ then other kids just step up and thatâ€™s a testament to developing kids, also kids being patient and understanding the process of how they get to learn from guys above them, and itâ€™s a hard time to do that now because of so many kids transferring. Weâ€™ve lost kids who have transferred because they didnâ€™t want to do that.â€
Over the years: Union vs. Glacier Peak
Now: 18th biggest school in state (1,478 students, per WIAA)
Boys basketball seasons (13 total)
Year, record, place at state
2007-08 (5-14) – no state
2008-09 (20-8) – 7th place
2009-10 (18-9) – won state (3A)
2010-11 (15-8) – no state
2011-12 (20-7) – third
2012-13 (16-8) – no state
2013-14 (16-9) – no state
2014-15 (24-2) – 3rd place (4A)
2015-16 (24-3) – 4th place
2016-17 (22-5) – 2nd place
2017-18 (20-7) – first round
2018-19 (24-3) – quarterfinals
2019-20 (24-0) – TBD
Overall record: 248-83 (74.9 winning percentage)
Head coaches: Maco Hamilton (2007-13); Blake Conley (2013-present).
Now: 33rd biggest school in state (1,324 students), per WIAA
Boys basketball seasons (12 total)
Year, record, place at state
2008-09 (13-11) – no state
2009-10 (22-6) – 4th place
2010-11 (23-6) – 5th place
2011-12 (17-8) – no state
2012-13 (19-7) – no state
2013-14 (15-8) – no state
2014-15 (18-5) – no state
2015-16 (13-11) – no state
2016-17 (19-5) – first round
2017-18 (20-4) – first round
2018-19 (14-8) – first round
2019-20 (23-0) – TBD
Overall record: 216-79 (73.2 winning percentage)