TACOMA — There was no doubt about who the Lake Stevens Vikings wanted to have the ball with the game on the line.
Senior guard Baylor Thomas made a driving layup with seconds remaining to force overtime, then Lake Stevens scored the game’s last six points as the Vikings defeated the Rogers (Puyallup) Rams 41-37 in a Class 4A state girls basketball loser-out game on Wednesday at the Tacoma Dome.
The Vikings appeared to be in deep trouble when Rogers’ Karinna Tel stole the ball and scored while being fouled, giving the Rams a 35-33 lead with 11.7 seconds remaining in regulation. But Tel couldn’t complete the three-point play, then Thomas took the ball the length of the court and converted with her right hand under heavy pressure with four seconds remaining. Rogers couldn’t get a shot off as the game went to overtime.
“There were 11 seconds left and we knew we needed a bucket,” Thomas said. “Luckily she missed her free throw, we got the rebound, and I just drove to the basket, threw it up and it went in. I was shaking, I was emotional after, it was crazy.”
“We talked about it before, ‘We don’t have any timeouts left so if we get to a place where they score, you’ve got to put your head down and get to the rim,’” Lake Stevens coach Randy Edens said. “She’s the one person we want with the ball in her hands in that kind of scenario. Baylor wants that moment, and she stepped up and delivered right there.”
Thomas’ 12 points led the fourth-seeded Vikings (20-4), who advanced to face third-seeded Pasco in the quarterfinals at 12:15 p.m. Thursday at the Tacoma Dome. Camille Jentzsch added nine points — including a crucial fourth-quarter 3-pointer as well as the go-ahead bucket in OT — and eight rebounds for Lake Stevens, while Chloe Pattison had nine rebounds and three steals.
Tel scored 17 points for 13th-seeded Rogers, which finished its season 20-7.
In overtime, Rogers took a 37-35 lead thanks to single free throws from Jenai Ancheta and Alexa Caufield. But Pattison tied it with two free throws of her own, then Jentzsch scored in the post with 1:50 remaining to give the Vikings a 39-37 lead. The teams traded fruitless possessions from that moment until the Vikings beat the press and Cori Wilcox scored down low on a feed from Ella Edens in the final seconds to clinch the victory.
Lake Stevens was able to prevail in a game where both teams struggled offensively. Lake Stevens shot just 30.4% from the floor, while Rogers shot 25.0%, including going 1-for-21 from 3-point range.
“We just really struggled putting the ball in the hoop the last three or four games, games have been really big grindfests for us, and at this stage you’re well scouted and teams are taking stuff away,” Randy Edens said. “I’m proud of our kids, we hung in.”
Meanwhile, Lake Stevens’ height advantage inside with the 6-foot-4 Jentzsch and 6-foot-2 Wilcox, along with a constantly-shifting defense — the Vikings regularly switched between a 3-2 zone, a 1-3-1 halfcourt trap and woman-to-woman, throwing a 2-3 zone in on one or two occasions for good measure — made life difficult for the Rams.
“We really mixed it up,” Edens said. “We wanted to give Pasco a lot of things to think about, to be honest. … We did some different things we don’t typically do and it was really effective there in the third (quarter). It allowed us — especially with our offensive struggles — to kind of hang in there, and we found a way late.”
In finding that way the Vikings assured themselves at least two more games.