By Aaron Swaney Herald Writer
BURLINGTON — It was a lesson the Archbishop Murphy girls basketball team thought it had learned the first time around.
Turns out Burlington-Edison had a few more tricks up its sleeve.
The Tigers turned its all ready physical play up a notch and hit a pair of big 3-pointers in the first quarter to jump out to a double-digit lead it would rarely relinquish over the next three quarters en route to a 55-37 win in a 2A District 1/2 Tournament semifinal game at Burlington-Edison H.S. on Tuesday night.
“They play a different brand of basketball,” said Archbishop Murphy head coach Mark Bircher. “They’re an extremely physical team and that first half we weren’t ready for that type of physical play. … We dug ourselves a hole in the first quarter.
Archbishop Murphy plays Lake Washington on Thursday at Mount Vernon H.S. at 6 p.m. in a loser-out consolation semifinal game. If Murphy wins it will play the winner of the Lynden-Sehome game on Saturday for a spot in regionals.
The Wildcats lost to B-E by 20 points in the season opener on the same court the two teams played on Tuesday night. Bircher said his team wasn’t prepared for the Tigers’ press defense and physical style of play going into that game in late Novemeber but felt they were Tuesday night.
But the Tigers were in mid-playoff form and the pressure was on early. Burlington-Edison held the Wildcats to just two field goals and got two big 3-pointers from senior Sydney Brown to outscore Murphy 16-6 in the game’s first six minutes.
“It was similar to the Post Falls game where we dug ourselves a hole in the first quarter and then fought, fought, fought but just couldn’t make up ground,” said Bircher, comparing the game to Murphy’s 53-38 loss to the Idaho team on Dec. 29.
Over the game’s next 23 minutes of play Archbishop Murphy kept pace with the Tigers, trading baskets and playing good defense. With 3:19 left in the game, Murphy took a timeout trailing B-E 46-36 and with possession. The Wildcat had the momentum as well, coming off a 5-0 run fueled by five straight turnovers by B-E.
But Tigers star wing Mariah Swanson was having none of it. Swanson stole the ball, hit a layin on the ensuing possession with the shot clock at two seconds and also came up with another steal on Murphy’s next possession to all but seal the game.
“Mariah Swanson is awfully good and she’s a matchup nightmare,” Bircher said of the Tigers wing who finished with a game-high 20 points. “But you know you work so hard to get to 10 and then she had a couple of daggers in there.”
Murphy star post Beth Carlson finished with eight points, well below her season average, eight rebounds and three steals. Carlson found herself in a back-and-forth battle with Tigers post Ellary Torset the entire game and was knocked to the floor at least 10 times throughout the game.
“We tried to get Beth outside a little bit more because (Torset) is so strong inside and tough to post,” Bircher said. “Beth always fights to the bitter end. She’s all over the place and she doesn’t back down to any thing. She was a target.”
Gemma Miller led Murphy with 11 points and also had a pair of steals and 3-pointers that kept the Wildcats on pace with the Tigers. Wildcats freshman Madison Pollock had 10 points and four steals.
One bright spot for Murphy in the win was its success against the Tigers’ full-court press, which they kept on for the lions’ share of the game. Archbishop Murphy broke the press all but a few times and didn’t let it affect it getting into its offensive sets like it did in the season opener.
“We knew it was coming and we were a little more prepared than last time,” Bircher said. “Last time it was a little deer-in-the-headlights but this time we were ready for it.”
The Wildcats now must prepare for Lake Washington, which lost to Sehome in the first round and beat Bellingham in overtime Tuesday night. The two teams only common opponent is Cedarcrest, which beat the Kangaroos 66-60 back on Dec. 4.
“This could be the three seniors last game and we’re going to come out swinging and fighting for our three seniors,” Bircher said of Carlson, MaireMichael Carroll and Anna Maher. “We’ll be ready.”
At Burlington-Edison H.S.
Archbishop Murphy 9 7 13 8 — 37
Burlington-Edison 20 10 10 15 — 55
Archbishop Murphy—Beth Carlson 8, Gabby Ducheane 3, MaireMichael Carroll 3, Megan Wall 0, Madison Pollock 10, Gemma Miller 11, Addison Schmidt 0, Anna Maher 2. Burlington-Edison—Mariah Swanson 20, Tyra Lopez 6, Molly McTaggart 3, Sydney Brown 14, Olivia Capron 2, Ellary Torset 8, Emily Agen 2. 3-point goals—Sydney Brown 2, Gemma Miller 2, Molly McTaggart 1, Beth Carlson 1, Gabby Ducheane 1, MaireMichael Carroll 1. Records—Archbishop Murphy 17-4 overall. Burlington-Edison 19-3.