By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
EDMONDS — Missy Peterson does not shrink from the moment.
The Edmonds-Woodway freshman starter got lost in the action for most of the district crossover game against Eastlake Saturday night, mostly due to foul trouble and her other teammates making big shots.
Showing a calmness that belies her years, however, Peterson scored the game-winning bucket with seven seconds to go against the Wolves — good for the Warriors only lead of the second half — to propel her team to a 66-65 victory and to the 4A state regional playoffs.
“Her team trusts her as a freshman,” E-W coach Rebekah Wells said.
Peterson scored eight of her 11 points in the final 2 minutes, 27 seconds of the game, including the game-winning, off-balance layup.
After Eastlake’s Marijke Vanderschaaf missed the second of two free throws with 19.7 seconds remaining, a mad dash down the court after the rebound put the ball in junior Natalie Kasper’s hand in the corner. The Warriors guard barely saved the ball from flying out of bounds. Peterson ran toward her and caught a pass at the 3-point line.
“We don’t need a three, I can get a better shot,” Peterson said she remembered thinking. “I pump faked drove to the basket and made it. It was awesome.”
Eastlake had a sprint to its end for the Wolves own game-winning chance, but two attempts rimmed off and the Warriors student section stormed the court in instant celebration.
The Wolves (18-6 overall) came in with a big record, big reputation and big lineup — the Wolves boast five players 5-foot-10 or taller, including 6-3 post Vanderschaaf — but left with a big disappointment.
“Eastlake is a great team and they hit a lot of shots,” Wells said.
Wolves junior co-captain Ellie Woerner was tough to stop especially early as she poured in 11 of her team-high 19 points in the first quarter.
But Edmonds-Woodway did not flinch.
“I knew it was going to be a close one, a good one,” said Peterson, who made her third game-winning shot of the season. “They are good, but we scouted them out.”
The Wolves came out firing with four different scorers hitting the first four buckets. After the first four minutes of the game elapsed, all five Eastlake starters scored and the Wolves held a 13-7 edge.
After it bulged to 18-10, Moni Jackson went to work for the Warriors. The 5-foot-3 junior guard scored back-to-back buckets and blazed for 15 points over the next seven minutes to push the Warriors into the lead at 33-32. She finished with a team-high 19 and single-handedly kept the team in the game in the first half, not intimidated by the Wolves’ size inside.
“She had a great game,” Wells said. “She was going up against a 6-3 girl and she’s tiny and she wasn’t afraid.
“It was great to have her have that confidence to show the rest of the team, ‘We can do this.’”
As the Wolves drew foul after foul, not a single Warrior showed any waver in intensity or belief. It helped that Eastlake shot just 10-of-23 from the free-throw line and Vanderschaaf was just 4-for-11.
“It wasn’t just Moni or Sidney (Eck) or Natalie,” Wells said. “Maddy Nealey hit a ton of shots more than she has been all year, it was just that whole team effort. This team really thrives off that.”
Nealey’s 14 points were a season high and was the only time she cracked double figures since the season opener. One of three seniors on the roster, she was averaging just 2.9 points per game.
Eastlake poured it on in the second half building a seven-point edge in the third quarter, which E-W trimmed back to two. Then the Wolves pushed it to eight points when Elizabeth Tracy hit a runner with 3:33 to go. As the game intensified the referees seemed to tighten as well, missing some calls both ways.
“They were getting bad calls and they were getting more frustrated than we were,” said Eck, the Warrior’s lone 6-footer who picked up her fourth foul midway through the final quarter. “We know these refs and we know how to work things and how they are going to call things.”
One of those calls the Wolves didn’t like was a foul on Peterson. Even bigger than her game-winner perhaps were her two free throws in a one-and-one situation with 2:27 to go that trimmed the lead to six.
The team never stopped believing.
“It means the world,” Peterson said. “We knew this could be our year. We have good players. We love each other. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.”
In Wells first year as head coach, the team advances to the State regional playoff against the winner of Beamer and Mt. Rainier, which was also played Saturday night. But these Warriors aren’t just happy to be there.
“It’s amazing,” Eck said. “I’m really happy to be going. Let’s get through this next game and go to the Tacoma Dome.”
At Edmonds-Woodway H.S.
Eastlake 23 14 13 15 — 65
Edmonds Woodway 18 17 11 20 — 66
Eastlake—Hwang 0, Tracy 9, Boe 6, Woerner 19, Morrison 0, Priestley 0, Lorentson 6, Mittenthal 0, Litzey-Adams 0, Vanderschaaf 14, Martensen 0, Douglas 11. Edmonds Woodway—Wooley 0, Browning 0, Burdett 8, Eck 7, Kasper 7, Nealey 14, Fyfe 0, Jackson 19, Bakken 0, Lebesis 0, Peterson 11. 3-point Goals—Nealy 4, Jackson 3, Boe 2, Lorentson 2, Burdett 2, Tracy 1, Douglas 1. Eastlake 18-6 overall. Edmonds Woodway 17-8.