By David Pan Enterprise sports editor
Archbishop Murphy took a major hit on the first day of the Class 2A state girls basketball tournament. But the Wildcats rebounded from its first-round loss to win three straight games and took home a fifth-place trophy March 13 at the Yakima SunDome.
Archbishop Murphy, last year’s 2A runner-ups, lost 58-40 to Ellensburg in a frustrating performance.
“We had to decide whether we were going to regroup and come back and compete,” said Wildcats coach John Barhanovich. “I was very pleased how the kids responded. We won three games in a row and finished fifth. I think we were one of the top five teams there. The trophy was very representative of what kind of a team we were.”
The loss to Ellensburg was a shock to the Wildcats, who came in as one of the more highly touted teams. After an even first quarter, Archbishop Murphy was outscored 30-13 in the second and third quarters.
“We didn’t shoot very well,” Barhanovich said. “We had no answers. … We weren’t really in it.”
Barhanovich was curious to see how the Wildcats would respond in its next game against Black Hills, and he was pleased to see Archbishop Murphy take a 15-6 first quarter lead and eventually win 54-44.
“That was a game where you don’t know how you’re going to react,” Barhanovich said. “The kids found a way to compete.”
Archbishop Murphy followed up with a 42-35 win over Squalicum and then beat East Valley (Yakima) 46-41 for fifth place. Nikole Bartholomew scored 10 of her 11 points in the first half, including three 3-pointers.Senior Savannah Fletcher also scored 11 points and averaged a team-high 9.8 points per game.
“Savannah really came on in the last half of the season,” Barhanovich said. “She did a great job in districts. She also continued her fine play in the state tournament. She was in foul trouble in two of the four games.”
Fletcher and her senior teammates Sam Pettinger, Shelby Lyman and Megan Carlson went 50-4 the last two seasons. The senior class finished second and fifth at state and won two Northwest District 1 championships. Some of the seniors also helped the volleyball team to a second-place finish at state and helped the soccer team win a state title.
“They’re a pretty good group of athletes,” Barhanovich said.
All five starters are graduating so the Wildcats will have a different look with reserves moving up.
“I think there are the right kind of kids coming back,” Barhanovich said. “I think we still can be very competitive in our league. … We’ve got some kids who’ve been in the program for a couple of years and witnessed our style and the system we play.
“It will be interesting to see who steps up.”
Freshman Beth Carlson saw action as a reserve after missing about half of the season with an injury. Other individuals Barhanovich expects to play key roles include junior Kelsy Rasmussen, junior Sarah Vincent, freshman Anna Maher and junior Alix Ericksen.
“These kids came off the bench this year,” Barhanovich said. “They had some significant contributions in games that we played. … It’s an open situation as to whichever kids take steps this year.”
Barhanovich hopes the winning tradition of recent years has an effect on the incoming players.
“The kids think when they go on the court that it’s going to be tough to beat us,” Barhanovich said. “I hope we carry that mindset with us.”