Hudson’s Bay girls set to play in the Tacoma Dome in final year as a Class 3A program
VANCOUVER — The Hudson’s Bay Eagles have crashed the party, and they plan to stick around a long, long time.
The Hudson’s Bay girls basketball team is heading to the Tacoma Dome, in the round-of-12 for the Class 3A bracket.
Five years ago, any mention of Hudson’s Bay going to the final 12 would have been laughable. Tacoma? Might as well make plans for the final four on the moon while you’re at it.
Seriously, in the 2015-16 season, this program won a grand total of zero games. Then just two wins the next season.
There was a leap to 13 wins in 2018. A year ago, the Eagles made it to a state regional, won 19 games, and the future looked bright.
The future has arrived.
The Eagles are 20-6 this season after winning Saturday in the state regionals to advance to the Tacoma Dome. Hudson’s Bay will face Lake Washington at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday in a round-of-12 elimination game. The winner goes to the quarterfinals Thursday.
The Class 3A Greater St. Helens League player of the year, Jaydia Martin, is a junior. In fact, most of the offense is comprised of non-seniors. Oh, and one of the team’s best players, Aniyah Hampton, a sophomore, has missed most of this season due to injury but plans on a full comeback next year.
We’ll get back to next year in a bit.
For now, it is March, and Hudson’s Bay can still keep talking about this season.
The Eagles have been taking pictures of the dome every time they have driven past it on road trips.
“For a lot of us, it won’t actually hit us,” junior Stacia Mikaele said. “It won’t hit us until we walk into that dome. It’s been a lot of driving by, and a lot of ‘maybes’, the ‘possibilities’ and the ‘what-ifs.’ Now, it’s for sure.”
Mikaele, Martin and Kamelai Powell were freshmen in 2018, the trio that started the program’s resurgence.
“The journey has been long, and it’s really cool to see everything finally come together and to be able to go to the dome,” Martin said.
“This has been our goal the whole year,” coach Michael Rainville said. “I’m just amazed the girls have done it. Not easy to do. They have really rallied together. They’re not ready for this season to end at all.”
The Eagles, the No. 14 seed, defeated No. 11 Meadowdale on Saturday to make it to Tacoma.
“That last game … they just did not quit,” Rainville said. “Meadowdale went up, we came back. Meadowdale went up again, we came back. Finally, we went up, and we didn’t give it back.”
The Eagles returned home after 11 p.m. that night, but none of them were ready for the night to end. The players all gathered at Mikaele’s house.
“We were hanging out until 4 in the morning. A big sleepover. Wake up, have breakfast,” Mikaele said. “The bond that we have is one you won’t find anywhere else.
“Thanks to the game of basketball, I have a whole other family,” she added.
Now, that family gets one more bonding experience.
According to WIAA archives, this is the first time the Bay girls program has made it to the Sweet 16 in back-to-back seasons. The Eagles did go to the final week of the season in 2007, but that was the year the 3A tournament was held in Seattle. The program also has a state appearance in the 1970s, before the Tacoma Dome existed.
So this week will be the first time for the Eagles. Oh, and it will be the last time for the foreseeable future. Next year, Hudson’s Bay will move to Class 2A, with the goal of reaching the Yakima Valley SunDome.
“I definitely think it is a beginning,” Martin said of Bay’s winning ways.