By David Krueger Herald Writer
MILL CREEK — The last time the Jackson and Lake Stevens girls basketball teams met in the postseason it was for a district title.
This time, it was to keep their respective seasons alive.
Just like in last year’s district championship, Lake Stevens came out on top. Brooke Pahukoa scored 21 points — 16 in the first half — as the Vikings defeated Jackson 55-41 in a 4A district loser-out game Wednesday night at Jackson High School.
“We feel pretty confident with what they do,” Lake Stevens head coach Randall Edens said. “… We felt comfortable going in. We were just coming off a loss against Lynnwood and I wasn’t sure how the kids would respond.”
The Vikings, which defeated Jackson 53-48 in last year’s district championship, responded right from the start. They began to pull away in the second quarter, outscoring Jackson 18-8, as they worked to avenge an earlier loss this season to the Timberwolves. Jackson defeated Lake Stevens 62-48 on Jan. 2.
But there was one big difference between that game and Wednesday’s — Pahukoa.
The senior guard, who missed the first meeting with a dislocated pinky finger, provided a spark for the Vikings. She combined with her twin sister Brittney Pahukoa to score all 14 first-quarter points for Lake Stevens (16-7 overall).
“I felt confident with the ball,” said Brooke Pahukoa, who still has tape around the injured finger. “My team was running plays very well.”
The senior sisters have won district championships in each of their first three seasons, but after a semifinals loss to Lynnwood the Vikings found themselves in the consolation side of the bracket.
“I don’t see it any differently,” Brooke Pahukoa said. “I play every game like it’s the championship game.”
Edens said that “it’s a challenge” going through the consolation bracket, but that he’s done it before in 2007. Rather than play in a championship game where a regional berth is guaranteed, Lake Stevens needs to win the district third-place game on Saturday night and then beat the Kingco No. 3 seed on Tuesday to get to regionals.
“If we want to get to where we want to go we just have to take a different route,” Edens said.
Kali Long recorded a double-double for Lake Stevens with 10 points and 14 rebounds and Brittney Pahukoa finished with 10 points, seven assists and five steals. Emily Vandegrift, a six-foot sophomore forward, came off the bench to grab nine rebounds and score four points.
“(Vandegrift) gave us some really good stretches of time,” said Edens. “Her length altered some shots.”
The Vikings will play Snohomish — which defeated Monroe 38-36 in the other consolation semifinal game — in the district third-place game. Lake Stevens split the season series against the Panthers. The winner of that game plays at the Kingco No. 3 team, while the loser’s season is over.
“You don’t want to think about the finality of it,” Edens said. “You just have to go out and play. ? It’s a very ‘one game at a time’ mentality.”
The loss ended Jackson’s (13-10) season. Timberwolves’ head coach Jeannie Boyer was very proud of her girls for not giving up despite a double-digit deficit the entire second half.
“Our girls played their hearts out,” Boyer said. “Lake Stevens is obviously a super-athletic team and they went out and battled.”
Sierra Anderson led Jackson with 16 points and five rebounds. While other Timberwolves struggled to score early in the game, the junior guard drove to the lane and finished some acrobatic layups, scoring nine of Jackson’s 11 first-quarter points.
“She’s a great player. She understands basketball,” Boyer said of Anderson. “She’s not afraid to take the team on her shoulders. She wants that burden, and she stepped up today. It’s awesome that she’s a junior.”
With only two seniors on the Jackson squad, Boyer believes there’s reason for optimism for the Timberwolves’ future.
Jackson graduates starting post Sierra Hagans — who had nine points and 11 rebounds in her final high school game — and Rachel Nies. The rest of the Jackson team is set to return while some league teams, like Lake Stevens, will be graduating several key players.
“We bring a lot of kids back, while (Lake Stevens) loses a couple of stars,” Boyer said. “When you look at the league as a whole, a lot of teams are older than we are. So we’re excited for next year to see what we can do.”
At Jackson H.S.
Lake Stevens 14 18 15 8 — 55
Jackson 11 8 10 12 — 41
Lake Stevens–Alex Briggs 0, Mallory Gipson 2, Cassidy Fifield 6, Chelsea Pahls 2, Railey Pedersen 0, Ivy Blackmon 0, Brittney Pahukoa 10, Emily Vandegrift 4, Brooke Pahukoa 21, Kali Long 10. Jackson–Brooke Kingma 0, Faithaleen Lopez-Flores 10, Sierra Anderson 16, Imari Clinton 0, Sierra Hagans 9, Rachel Nies 3, Anna Johnson 3, Martina Mason 0, Drew Lochnane 0. 3-point goals–Fifield 2, Bro. Pahukoa 1, Lopez-Flores 2, Anderson 2. Records–Lake Stevens 16-7 overall. Jackson 13-10.