By Kevin Brown Herald Writer
TACOMA — In order to bring home a fifth-place trophy from the Class 4A girls state basketball tournament, the Edmonds-Woodway Warriors had to beat two opponents Saturday: the Moses Lake Chiefs and their own fatigue.
The latter proved just as formidable as the former.
With three quarters of solid play in the scorebook, the Warriors held a seemingly comfortable 11-point advantage before staggering through a lengthy scoring drought in the fourth period and barely holding on for a 44-38 victory in the Tacoma Dome.
Moses Lake (17-14) placed eighth.
The Warriors, playing their fourth game in four days, led 40-29 at the start of the fourth quarter when they suddenly hit the wall. They turned the ball over eight times in 12 possessions and went scoreless for better than six minutes.
“When you get tired, your execution goes down the tubes,” E-W coach Duane Hodges said. “And that’s what happened.”
As E-W (25-3) struggled, Moses Lake closed the gap. Tiffany Morris’ basket with 4:29 to play trimmed the difference to 40-38, but the Chiefs wouldn’t score again.
“We got couple of key stops on the defense and from that point we were a little more relieved,” E-W junior post Sydney Donaldson said of shutting off the Chiefs’ 9-0 run.
Angela Woods ended E-W’s offensive dry spell with a free throw with 1:45 to play and added two more foul shots with 12.9 remaining to seal the win. E-W did not have a field goal in the final quarter.
Woods finished with a team-high 12 points. Amia Nash came of the E-W bench to grab a game-high 10 rebounds in 10 minutes.
Ashley Albertson, a 6-foot junior, added 10 points and six rebounds for the Warriors. Albertson came into the game averaging a tournament-best 14.3 boards and needed 14 to tie the tourney record of 57 set by Kate Starbird of Lakes in1991.
“I was telling somebody before the game that if somebody doesn’t take a chance on her and give her a scholarship just as a rebounder, they are missing out,” Hodges said. “Every rebound is hers, in her mind. She’s like that when she just plays rat ball. She kills people on the boards.”
With three hard-fought wins at state and their entire roster coming back, the Warriors figure to be one of the top teams in the state next season, though this year’s 16-team girls bracket included several youthful squads, among them state-placers Issaquah and Chiawana.
“It’s going to be a banner year in high school basketball for girls next year,” Hodges said.
So, after placing fifth in their first trip to state in 17 years, what will the Warriors shoot for next season?
“Our goal next year is just to get further in state,” Albertson said.
How much further?
“Fourth?” she said with a laugh.
Donaldson hopes the Warriors do even better than that.
“Our goal for next year,” she said, “is we don’t want to lose at state.”
Note: In their final game at the Class 4A state girls basketball tournament, the Edmonds-Woodway Warriors faced one of the best all-around players in the tourney.
Moses Lake junior guard Jordan Loera came into the game averaging 19.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists over her first three state games.
The Warriors showed Leora a variety of defenses and tried to force the ball out of her hands whenever possible. The game plan worked. Leora finished with four points, two rebounds and six assists. She shot 2-of-12.
“(We) were really set to stop her,” Edmonds-Woodway coach Duane Hodges said. “It became a combination defense, a diamond and one, and that was kind overkill. We kind of over prepared for her. Then we said ‘Let’s just do what we know how to do really, really well.’ So we did man and we did a little bit of extended 2-3 zone. We just wanted to be aware of where she was.”
At the Tacoma Dome
Edmonds-Woodway—Kasper 4, Nash 2, Kenney 7, Tuuamalemalo 0, Albertson 10, Donaldson 9, Woods 12. Moses Lake—Guzman 0, Sutherland 5, Loera 4, Padilla 2, Morris 14, Diaz 6, Munoz 0, Davis 0, Bernsen 7. 3-point FG—Kasper 1, Kenney 1, Alberston 1, Donaldson 1, Woods 1, Sutherland 1, Morris 4. Records—Edmonds-Woodway 25-3, Moses Lake 17-14.