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Originally published Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 11:09 PM

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Stanwood topples Terrace, 47-43 | Northwest 3A Basketball

Josh Thayer scored 17 points as the Spartans avenged a loss to the Hawks last month by winning the district championship game.

Special to The Seattle Times

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MILL CREEK — Stanwood coach Zach Ward climbed the ladder and snipped the last few threads of the net.

His team had just claimed the Northwest 3A District boys basketball title with a 47-43 victory over Mountlake Terrace Saturday night at Jackson High School, and Ward wanted to savor it.

"That's something that I dream about," said Ward, the Spartans' sixth-year coach. "I didn't get to play in one of these games as a player. I didn't get to cut nets. I didn't really have the game to play Michael Jordan in the driveway. I just pictured: I want to be on that ladder cutting down nets."

Ward held onto the net for a moment and then threw it into a sea of Spartans waiting to catch it.

"This thing is going to be in the trophy case forever," Ward said. "They're 12 unbelievable young men. I couldn't be happier for them."

Junior guard Josh Thayer led the Spartans with 17 points, including a basket that gave Stanwood a 43-38 lead with just over a minute to play.

"It's the best feeling I've ever had in my entire life," said Thayer. "We have every piece to the puzzle. We've got depth off the bench. We've got big men. We've got good guards. We have everything."

Drew Sears, a 6-foot-10 senior forward, locked down the Hawks under the basket on the defensive end and scored 12 points for the Spartans.

"He's come a long ways," Ward said of Sears. "His presence on the defensive end is so good. He's bought in to just being a defender."

Both teams are headed to regionals, seventh-ranked Stanwood (18-5) as a No. 1 seed. Fifth-ranked Mountlake Terrace (20-3) will be a No. 2 seed.

The Spartans were galvanized by a 58-52 loss to Terrace on Jan. 11. Stanwood surrendered an 11-point halftime lead at home in that one.

"It was heartbreaking," Thayer said. "We thought we had it, and we let go in the second half and gave it up. But we came back here and got our revenge."

The Hawks again threatened to rally late in Saturday's contest. Terrace guard Marquis Armstead banked in a three-pointer, falling to his back and bringing his team within two, 45-43, with 5.2 seconds remaining.

But the Spartans drained four seconds off the clock before senior guard Mason Garcea was fouled. Garcea hit two free throws, and the Spartans danced away with the league title.

"It's what you dream about as a kid," Sears said.

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