Tired Titans won’t mind one more trip north; Prairie girls still alive; La Center boys out
The first 30 or so minutes of the bus ride home Friday night was filled with excitement.
The Union girls basketball team had just clinched its first trip to the Tacoma Dome in program history. The Titans were thrilled.
That bus trip was one fun atmosphere for a bit, coach Mike Cranston said.
Then it was lights out and quiet.
The Titans were just too tired.
After all, they just put together one of the more memorable runs in recent Southwest Washington high school basketball playoff history.
Union has played its last six games in Auburn, Tacoma three times, and then Puyallup twice, going 4-2 in those games, including 3-0 in elimination contests.
Friday night, the Titans opened the Class 4A state tournament in the regional round, defeating Todd Beamer 48-37. The result will send the Titans back to Tacoma next week, but this time to the final destination: The Tacoma Dome.
“It’s been an amazing ride,” Cranston said. “It’s just kind of sinking in. Six trips and three loser-out games. Pretty amazing. … Pretty cool to see a team go through that kind of adversity and challenge.”
Mackenzie Lewis had “the game of her life,” Cranston said, considering the circumstances, totalling 20 points in the win over Beamer.
Union will play another elimination game Wednesday at the dome, playing in the round of 12. The Titans will take on the loser of Saturday’s Camas-Central Valley game. The winner of Wednesday’s game will reach the state quarterfinals and be assured of at least two more games.
Camas beat Union twice this season, but the Titans won’t be rattled if they have to face the Papermakers again. After all, Union just avenged one loss. Todd Beamer beat Union by 24 points just eight days before Friday’s regional round.
“We had a very similar game plan,” Cranston said of Friday’s game and the one at bi-district. “We just had the kids buy in a little more and we were a little more focused. The girls just executed the second time around.”
Lewis made three 3-pointers en route to her 20 points.
“She definitely had it all going on, shooting outside and inside,” Cranston said of Lewis, a tall, versatile guard. “Really happy for her. On our biggest night, she really came through for us.”
Lewis, a sophomore, has had an “up and down” season, the coach said, but she never lost focus.
“She stuck with it and had a great, great night to get us to the dome,” he said.
The Titans will have one more trip to the Puget Sound area. They hope it will be a long stay.
No matter what happens Wednesday, though, they already know they have made a long-lasting memory.
Class 3A girls
Gig Harbor 53, Prairie 34
The Prairie Falcons worked all season in hopes of making the top eight in the RPI, to ensure a trip to the Tacoma Dome regardless of how they played in the regional round.
Good thing for the Falcons, too, because Gig Harbor cruised in the second half Friday night to down Prairie in a regional round seeding game.
Prairie’s loss means the Falcons will advance to the Tacoma Dome for a Wednesday elimination game. Prairie will face the winner of Saturday’s game between Lynnwood and Stanwood. The winner of Wednesday’s game will advance to the state quarterfinals.
The Falcons missed out on a chance of going directly to the quarterfinals after Friday’s struggle in the second half. Gig Harbor outscored Prairie 36-15 in the final two quarters.
It was the second consecutive meeting between the two teams. Prairie defeated Gig Harbor last Saturday for third place in the bi-district tournament.
Class 1A boys
Montesano 61, La Center 48
The season came to an end for the Wildcats in the elimination bracket of the state regional playoffs.
A close game for the first three quarters, Montesano pulled away in the fourth to earn a trip to the state’s final 12 at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
La Center missed out on getting to the dome, but still qualified for the state round of 16 for the second consecutive season. According to WIAA archives, that is the first time the program has accomplished that feat since 2002 and 2003.
La Center also won the district championship this season.
Nine more teams from Clark County are in action Saturday, including four at Battle Ground High School: the Prairie boys, Washougal girls, Skyview boys, and Union boys.
Five of the teams are assured of going to the dome and are playing today to go directly to the state quarterfinals: Union boys, Skyview boys, Camas girls, Columbia River boys, and La Center girls.
The other four are playing in elimination games in order to advance to the state’s final 12: Prairie boys, Washougal girls, King’s Way Christian boys, and Columbia Adventist girls.
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