Paytin Ballard held one of the best players in the state to seven points as the Eagles advanced to the district championship game
RIDGEFIELD — The Hudson’s Bay Eagles are going back to the girls basketball state regionals.
They put on a defensive showcase Monday night, led by Paytin Ballard.
They got four 3-pointers and another timely bucket from Aniyah Hampton.
Oh, and they have survived the most difficult athletic district in all of Class 2A girls basketball.
The Eagles toughed it out for a 33-30 victory over W.F. West in the semifinals of the District 4 tournament at Ridgefield High School. The win puts them in the finals against Tumwater on Friday night at Battle Ground. Both of those teams have qualified for state.
Washougal missed out on its first opportunity to make it to state, losing to Tumwater in the other semifinal.
Meanwhile, Hockinson remained alive in the consolation bracket.
And as the bracket has it, it will be Hockinson vs. Washougal for one of the final berths. Those two teams split the season series. One will go to state regionals. One will not.
Monday night in Ridgefield was a special place to be for girls basketball. The four Class 2A teams in the semifinals are ranked in the top five in the state by RPI as well as Scorebook Live Washington.
It’s still possible those four teams will all make state. (W.F. West is taking on R.A. Long in the other consolation final for the final berth.) Two years ago, only three teams made it to state out of this district.
“This is another step on our list of what we want to accomplish as a team,” Ballard said. “All of the hard work we’ve put in these last couple of years is really paying off.”
The Eagles, who went 12 years in a row without making it to state, have now made it to the round of 16 the past three tournament years. This one is particularly special. The Eagles were poised to have perhaps one of their best teams in decades in 2021 but only were allowed to play in the abbreviated COVID season. No state tournament. That squad lost several key players to graduation. These Eagles heard they might not be as good anymore.
Now look at them. Back to state.
“It means everything,” Hampton said. “This team has been through a lot. Just proud of where we came from. Glad to go back. We’re ready to prove people wrong again.”
Hampton scored 16 points for the Eagles, including four 3-pointers. Late in the game, she was in an awkward position on the floor , her back toward the basket, no dribble.
A turnaround jumper was true, giving the Eagles some breathing room.
“I practice it a little bit,” Hampton said. “I was stuck, with nowhere else to go. Luckily it fell.”
Ballard scored five points for the Eagles, but could be considered the MVP of this game for her defense on W.F. West’s all-time leading scorer Drea Brumfield.
As soon as the Eagles went from offense to defense, Ballard found Brumfield and stuck with her throughout every possession. Like glue. Brumfield scored one field goal Monday night and finished with seven points.
“That means I really did my job,” Ballard said, noting that being tasked with that assignment probably meant she would not score as many points as her norm.
That was OK by her, though. Most of her energy had to be focused on Brumfield, a Pepperdine signee.
“I think being able to have that responsibility means that my team trusts me to do my job,” Ballard said. “That means I trust them to be able to do their job as well.”
Hudson’s Bay coach Michael Rainville said Ballard has been the best defender on the team all year, describing Ballard as a college-level defender.
The Eagles started slow on offense, but the defense kept it close. Bay took the lead in the second half. That trust in each other, on both ends of the court, got them back to state.
Here are the updated brackets for the district tournaments featuring Clark County teams. Ridgefield plays for a state berth Tuesday in Class 2A boys basketball. La Center and King’s Way Christian girls, playing in separate semifinals, have opportunities to clinch state berths Tuesday, as well.