Eds. note: The Game of the Year was selected by Herald staff based on first-hand observations and voting by fans.
Quite honestly, The Herald’s Game of the Year, the 4A girls basketball state semifinal between the Arlington Eagles and the Lake Stevens Vikings, is remembered more for a moment than the final outcome, a 66-64 victory by the Eagles.
With the Vikings trailing 56-53 with 3.3 seconds remaining in regulation, point guard Brittney Pahukoa took the inbounds pass, quickly dribbled to the top of the key, and let a 3-pointer fly. The buzzer sounded with the ball in mid-flight, but eventually fell straight through the hoop to send the game into overtime.
It sent the Lake Stevens players and coaches and the entire Tacoma Dome (including press row) into a state of hysteria.
Out of all the great shots that were made in an exhilarating three days at the Tacoma Dome, Pahukoa’s shot is in a league of its own.
But it didn’t win the game.
What make this clash The Herald’s Game of the Year is that it was so much more than one amazing moment. Both teams had to fight adversity. The Eagles first, as they found themselves behind for much of the first half and falling behind by as many as 12 early in the third quarter.
When Arlington needed it, it wasn’t their star Lindsey Brown or charismatic point guard Krista Showalter who came up big — it was a freshman. After averaging just over five points per game all season, Russ scored a career-high 23 points to ignite a comeback. The Eagles fought all the way back to take the lead in the final moments and after a three by Brown appeared like they might have completed the comeback.
But Pahukoa made the Eagles earn it.
Eagles head coach Joe Marsh told his team after the shot, “We’re not done. They made a great shot, good for them. It’s 0-0 now and now let’s go win this thing.”
In overtime, Brown hit another big 3-pointer and the Eagles did just that.
Maybe Marsh should win an award for pep talk of the year.