TACOMA — The Lake Stevens High School girls basketball team’s defense couldn’t have been any better thus far during its sojurn to the Tacoma Dome. Unfortunately for the Vikings, the same can’t be said for the other end of the floor, and on Thursday afternoon it caught up to them.
Turnovers and missed shots proved too difficult to overcome as the Vikings fell 37-35 to the Pasco Bulldogs in the Class 4A state quarterfinals.
Pasco’s Taija Mackay, who finished with a game-high 16 points, scored the tiebreaking basket with 48 seconds remaining to send the third-seeded Bulldogs (23-1) to the semifinals Friday against second-seeded Sumner.
Chloe Pattison had 10 points and five steals and Cori Wilcox added eight points and 10 rebounds for fourth-seeded Lake Stevens (20-5), which fell into the consolation bracket. The Vikings face ninth-seeded Camas in a loser-out game at 10:00 a.m. Friday back at the Tacoma Dome.
The game’s decisive sequence epitomized Lake Stevens’ offensive struggles throughout the first two days of the tournament. With the score tied 35-35 the Vikings got a stop and raced up the court, only to miss a layup. Pasco sped back the other way, with Mya Groce setting up Mackey for a layup of her own that gave the Bulldogs the lead. Lake Stevens headed back the other way, but turned the ball over to give it back to Pasco.
The Bulldogs gave Lake Stevens hope by missing the front end of back-to-back one-and-ones, but the Vikings missed a 3-pointer after the first, then didn’t get a shot off before the final horn following the second.
Lake Stevens was able to overcome those types of offensive woes in their 41-37 overtime victory over Rogers of Puyallup on Wednesday to get to the quarterfinals. But the Vikings couldn’t overcome them against the Bulldogs. Lake Stevens finished with 26 turnovers and made just 10 of 39 shots from the field (25.6%).
“We have to finish at the basket,” Lake Stevens coach Randy Edens said. “We had stuff inside that we just didn’t convert, and that’s the difference. In a two-point game those things add up over time. The amount of layups we had point blank, especially there in the fourth quarter, that changes that game right there.”
The loss meant a tremendous Lake Stevens defensive effort went for naught. The Vikings sat back in a 3-2 zone, with Pattison causing all kinds of havoc at the top with her long reach. Lake Stevens took away the free-throw line, rendering Mackey a spectator as the Bulldogs were unable to get the ball to the burly 6-foot post player in the first half as the Vikings led 20-15 at halftime.
However, the Bulldogs found ways to get the ball to Mackey in better positions during the second half, when she scored 12 of her 16 points.
“(Taking away the free-throw line) was the objective,” Edens said. “Matchup wise they just bring some interesting dynamics if you play (woman-to-woman), and we were trying to save our legs a little bit, too, because we’re hoping to be here for four days. We were really effective with it against Rogers, we thought we’d throw it out again with some different wrinkles, and it was really good. Our defense was just fine, but you have to get over 40 points to win in most cases.”
Lake Stevens played from behind through most of the fourth quarter following Mireyah Lopez’s early 3-pointer, which gave the Bulldogs a 30-28 lead. Pasco stretched its lead to 34-30 before Pattison hit a step-back 3-pointer with 1:49 remaining to cut the deficit to one, and after Perla Ruiz forced a turnover Wilcox was fouled and made one of two free throws to tie it at 35-35 with 1:24 remaining, thus setting the stage for the frantic finish.