Semifinalists will play 9 p.m. games again Friday
The Washougal Panthers and La Center Wildcats did not mind the late games in the Yakima Valley SunDome on Thursday night.
In fact, they will do it again Friday night.
Washougal beat W.F. West 49-39 in a Class 2A state girls basketball quarterfinal game in Yakima.
On the other court, at the same time, La Center rolled bast Connell in a Class 1A boys basketball quarterfinal.
That gives Clark County four semifinalists in three WIAA tournaments, and there is a possibility of a two local teams playing each other for a title. The Prairie girls are in the 3A semifinals in Tacoma. The King’s Way Christian boys won a 1A quarterfinal in Yakima earlier Thursday.
Here is what went down in the late game in Yakima:
Class 2A girls
Washougal 49, W.F. West 39
The Panthers beat W.F. West for the third time this season, advancing to the semifinals for the first time in program history.
Jaiden Bea scored 16 points (or was it 18?), Beyonce Bea added 14 points and nine rebounds, and Skylar Bea had 10 points and nine boards as the Panthers improved to 21-4.
(Those were the stats provided by the WIAA, but the team’s social media account lists 18 points for Jaiden and Beyonce with 12. Don’t think it matters to either one of them, so we’ll go with 18 for Jaiden)
Washougal will play Clarkston in a semifinal game Friday at 9 p.m.
“It’s so cool. These kids are special,” Washougal coach Britney Knotts said late Thursday. “We knew coming in this was going to be a very special season. Being able to set our goals and take steps closer and closer to those goals is really great. It is confirming everything we’re doing and what we believe in, and just how good of a team we are.”
W.F. West has a proud tradition of excellence, too.
“I was worried just because they are a tough team. It’s hard to beat a good team three times,” Knotts said.
It only took a few minutes to be put at ease.
“Once I saw the energy and how we came out, there was no looking back,” Knotts said.
Washougal led by 11 after three quarters, holding W.F. West to three points in the period.
It wasn’t over, though.
“I knew they’d make a run at us, and we responded,” the coach said.
Sure enough, the Bearcats did get close with a spurt early in the fourth quarter.
Sure enough, the Panthers had an answer.
“We were able to keep playing and keep attacking,” Knotts said.
The Panthers got an offensive rebound and putback basket by Skylar Bea. Later in the fourth, Beyonce Bea completed a three-point play.
Washougal was 7 of 9 from the line in the final minutes, securing the victory.
“It’s something we practice and preach every day,” Knotts said. “We don’t want to leave free points on the floor.”
A year ago, Washougal was one-and-one in the Wednesday elimination game in Yakima.
In 2019, the Panthers are a final four team.
“This year, a totally different look for us,” Knotts said. “Happy, excited, confident, and ready to move on to the next challenge.”
Class 1A boys
La Center 68, Connell 45
The La Center defense put on a championship worthy performance Thursday night, and La Center is one step closer to a championship game.
Avery Seter scored 28 points as the Wildcats cruised past Connell in a Class 1A state boys basketball quarterfinal in Yakima.
“We’re guaranteed to bring home a trophy,” La Center coach Jeremy Ecklund said. “That’s huge. La Center hasn’t been in the semifinals since the 90s. It’s such a great feeling to be there. Our program just builds and builds.”
The coach and players were thrilled with all the support they had in Yakima, on a Thursday. Even middle school students were in attendance.
“We had a ton of fans over here. People are excited about it,” Ecklund said. “It’s great to be in that position.”
La Center will feel like a road team Friday in the semifinals. The Wildcats will face Zillah, which is about 20 miles from the SunDome.
The Wildcats reached the final four with a dominating stretch against Connell, outscoring the Eagles 43-22 in the second and third quarters.
“They had a really tough time moving the ball,” Ecklund said. “We got quite a few steals just being in the passing lanes, just really giving them fits.”
Seter ended up with four steals. He had 16 of his points in the first half. Seter also led the team in rebounds with eight.
La Center opened the second half with a 9-2 run to take a 15-point advantage and never looked back.
Hunter Ecklund added 13 points and four assists. Matt Bryant had 10 points and six rebounds.
Every player on the roster got in the game.
“That was a great thing,” Jeremy Ecklund said. “Everybody got a taste of the state tournament.”
The Wildcats got some late-night food and then started to focus on the semifinals. Not much time to celebrate in this type of tournament structure, but the Wildcats are enjoying themselves.
“They know it’s going to be a fun night Friday,” the coach said.