Skyview boys going to state for first time; La Center girls win district
RIDGEFIELD — It was close, and then it wasn’t.
The Washougal Panthers ruled the second half of their Class 2A District 4 girls basketball elimination game Wednesday night to beat Mark Morris 64-49, surviving to play at least one more game.
It wasn’t close, and then it was.
The Woodland Beavers, who were down 12 points and had scored only 19 points with just seconds left in the third quarter, dominated the fourth quarter to rally past Columbia River 40-34, surviving to play at least one more game.
Washougal, the 2A Greater St. Helens League champion, will take on Woodland on Saturday for the district’s final berth to the state regional round. (Update: That game will be 3 p.m. Saturday at Mark Morris High School in Longview.)
Washougal 64, Mark Morris 49
Kiara Cross scored all 13 of her points in the second half, including 10 in the third quarter when the Panthers put this one away.
Tiana Barnett made a 3-pointer to break a 25-all tie, then it was the Cross show for the next few minutes.
Cross hit a 3-pointer, then got a steal and bucket, and a minute later connected on another 3-pointer. Washougal never looked back while avenging its only league loss of the season.
“I didn’t even know,” she said of her hot streak. “I was just playing. I play for my team. I played my heart out. I don’t even know what to say. I’m so excited.”
Beyonce Bea led the Panthers with 24 points and five blocked shots. She also had eight rebounds. Skyler Bea had a team-high nine rebounds.
Washougal, stunned by a first-round loss in this tournament, has responded with back-to-back similar victories. The Panthers were tied at the half against Hockinson and rolled in the second half. Then turned a two-point game into a rout against Mark Morris.
“I just wanted to win. I wanted this for our team so bad,” Cross said.
Woodland 40, Columbia River 34
Kaija Olson started the comeback, and she made sure her team completed the comeback, leading the Beavers to the third-place game at the district tournament.
Olson hit a 3-pointer just before the third-quarter horn, pulling Woodland to within nine points of the Chieftains. It was the start of a 21-3 finish for the Beavers.
“We really just wanted to pick up the momentum,” Olson said. “We just tried to get back into our defense and push our pace to try to get the offense going.”
The offense was nearly non-existent for the first 23 minutes and 50 seconds. Olson’s 3-pointer gave Woodland 22 points through three quarters.
That defense, though, kept the Beavers within striking distance. Then they struck.
Woodland scored the first eight points of the final quarter. After a River free throw, Nicole Christensen tied the game for the Beavers with 4:30 to play.
Sydney Flores-Tucker would score for the Chieftains with 4:12 to play for a 34-32 lead.
That would be the last points of the game for River.
“It’s nice to know our defense is doing us some good,” Olson said. “Knowing we can get stops really helps us.”
The Beavers made a free throw on the next trip to make it a one-point game. Olson put Woodland up for good at the 2:24 mark with two free throws.
Then she made the move of the night, driving baseline for a reverse layup as the shot clock expired for a three-point advantage.
“I didn’t really notice the shot clock,” Olson acknowledged. “I knew we had to score. I saw an open lane and drove to take it and hoped for the best.”
Christensen, who led the team with 13 points, would make three of four free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
Class 4A boys
Skyview qualifies for state
Let it be known that the 2017-18 Skyview boys basketball team is the first squad in program history to make it to the state round of 16.
With their RPI, they are surely headed to the Tacoma Dome as part of the final 12 teams in the state, too.
Oh, and they accomplished it the hard way. After falling in the first round of bi-district tournament, the Storm have won three consecutive games in the consolation bracket to reach their goal.
Jovon Sewell led a balanced attack with 15 points and Samaad Hector added 11 as Skyview cruised to a 57-27 victory over Olympia on Wednesday. Skyview held Olympia scoreless in the second quarter.
“So happy for our boys right now. They have really worked hard to put themselves in this position,” Skyview coach Matt Gruhler said.
He noted the difference a year makes. Skyview lost the opener of bi-district last year but did not rise up to the challenge of the consolation bracket.
“Our returning players were laser focused not to have it happen again,” Gruhler said. “Their effort and focus in the next practice was much improved over the same time last time.”
Gruhler said he was proud of his team for never complaining about the grind of the bi-district. The Storm have traveled to the Puget Sound area for four games in the past eight days.
“For student-athletes, it has been a brutal schedule, but they haven’t whined or said it wasn’t fair,” the coach said. “They have kept focused on the task ahead.”
Skyview will be on the road again Friday to play Kentwood at Mt. Tahoma High School. Win or lose in that one, the Storm will play on at state.
Federal Way 82, Union 62:
The Titans were close for a half before Federal Way pulled away in the championship semifinals of the bi-district tournament.
The Titans hope to use this experience to aid them in the state tournament. By reaching the final four of bi-district, Union had already clinched a state bid. And like Skyview, Union’s RPI is so good that it will make it to the Tacoma Dome.
Tyler Combs, Zach Reznick, and Ethan Smith combined for 52 of Union’s 62 points Wednesday.
Union will face Curtis in the third-place game, Saturday afternoon at Mt. Tahoma High School.
The La Center Wildcats are district champions again.
Taylor Stephens scored 19 points, Taylor Mills added 16, and the La Center Wildcats held off an Elma rally in the fourth quarter to win the 1A District 4 championship 54-50.
La Center took a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter.
The victory clinched a berth to the state round of 16 for the Wildcats. La Center also moved ahead of Elma in the RPI rankings. It appears the Wildcats will be one of the top eight teams at state in terms of RPI, meaning they will advance to Yakima among the final 12 teams.
Here is the bracket, showing La Center as the No. 1 seed from District 4:
Lincoln 42, Prairie 40:
The Prairie Falcons lost to a Washington team for the first time this season, a defensive battle with another of the top programs in the state.
The Falcons, who had already clinched a trip to the state regional round, will play for third place in the bi-district tournament Friday against Gig Harbor at Rogers High School in Puyallup.
As of Thursday morning, the Falcons are eighth in the RPI. Lincoln is No. 2.
Here are the brackets for the tourneys that were not in action Wednesday.