TACOMA — The Edmonds-Woodway girls basketball team suffered heartbreaking losses against Snohomish and Arlington earlier in the season after letting leads slip away late.
E-W wasn’t about to let that happen on the state’s grandest stage.
The 15th-seeded Warriors raced out to a 14-point halftime lead and held off a furious Bethel comeback for a 54-45 victory Wednesday in a loser-out game at the Class 3A Hardwood Classic in the Tacoma Dome.
“It’s quite a ride right now,” Edmonds-Woodway coach Jon Rasmussen said, “and we’re having a lot of fun.”
The Warriors (15-9) seemingly had the game in hand after a dominant first half.
E-W built a 14-point advantage after closing the opening period on a 10-0 run, and the seventh-seeded Braves (20-6) couldn’t do anything to chip away at the deficit as they shot just 20 percent through the first 16 minutes.
“It was so important for us to get our shots in early,” Edmonds-Woodway senior Rebekah Dasalla-Good said. “One of our main ideas in the locker room is that we gotta start early. It’s now or never.”
E-W pushed its lead to 34-15 with 5 minutes, 41 seconds remaining in the third quarter before Bethel started to chip away with sophomore Esmeralda Morales leading the way.
The Braves’ 5-foot-4 guard poured in 13 points during a 24-12 run over a 9:30 span, eventually whittling the Warriors’ lead to 46-41 after hitting a pull-up 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining in regulation.
“We were all pretty nervous around that time, but you know basketball is a game of runs,” Dasalla-Good said. “For us, we really just gotta stay focused, stay calm and just play our game.”
E-W did just that.
Clinging to a late lead, the Warriors locked down on defense — they held Bethel scoreless until Morales made a lay-in with :07 remaining — and sank seven of 10 free-throw attempts to clinch the program’s first quarterfinal appearance since 2016.
“We’ve wanted to get here since the beginning of the season,” senior Ingrid Fosberg said. “But towards the middle we kind of fell into a rut and it was kind of hard to get out of that. But the past few games we’ve shown we deserve to be here. We came in as a 15 seed, but I think we deserved to be here and we showed that.”
Dasalla-Good and senior Adrienne Poling led a balanced scoring attack for E-W with 15 points each. Fosberg added 13.
Morales led the Braves with 21 points but needed 26 shots to get there after a 2-of-10 first half. Junior Tiarra Brown added eight points and 14 rebounds.
The victory was a statement of sorts for the Warriors, who are embracing the underdog role even though they said the No. 15 in front of their name isn’t indicative of the team’s talent.
“(Coach Rasmussen) always says how we’re the best 14-9 team here,” Fosberg said. “And I think a lot of people don’t realize what we have looking at our record. I think we kind of have the advantage of the surprise factor when they look at our record.”
Edmonds-Woodway advances to play top-seeded Prairie in the state quarterfinals at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in the Tacoma Dome.