MILL CREEK — With her team’s struggling offense in desperate need of a spark, Maya DuChesne came through in the biggest of ways.
And thanks to the four-year starting point guard’s second-half heroics, the Snohomish girls basketball team is headed back to the Tacoma Dome.
DuChesne scored 10 of her team-high 16 points in the third quarter as the 11th-seeded Panthers rallied for a 38-35 win over 14th-seeded Lake Washington in a Class 3A loser-out state regional Saturday night at Jackson High School.
“(She) really took control of the game for us offensively,” Snohomish coach Ken Roberts said. “It was great to see her respond that way with the second half she had, and we’re still playing because of that.”
With the victory, the Panthers (16-7) advanced to the Hardwood Classic for the third time in four years. Snohomish will face No. 6 seed Seattle Prep in an elimination game at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Tacoma Dome, with the winner advancing to play No. 4 seed Kamiakin in Thursday’s state quarterfinals.
The Panthers are coming off a district championship and have won 13 of their last 14 games.
“That’s our goal every year when we start the season — to get down there and hopefully play on Saturday,” Roberts said.
After earning a pair of top-three state trophies in 2016 and 2017, Snohomish went unbeaten in Wesco 3A/2A play last season, but lost twice in the district tournament and fell short of the state regionals. DuChesne said missing state last year added extra motivation this season.
“Last year, it definitely hurt,” she said. “We knew that (us seniors) had one more year to come back to the Tacoma Dome.”
Snohomish was out of sync offensively in the first half, managing just 12 points while struggling both in the halfcourt and against a full-court press Lake Washington (15-10) mixed in.
“We got on our heels a little bit and we didn’t play with any confidence in the first half,” Roberts said. “… We had a lot of kids that I feel were playing a little nervous.”
But despite their offensive woes, the Panthers’ stifling 2-3 zone defense kept them within striking distance, and they entered halftime trailing just 20-12.
During the break, Roberts said he encouraged DuChesne to be more aggressive.
The senior point guard responded in a major way.
With her team facing a 10-point deficit early in the second half, DuChesne drained a pair of 3-pointers and banked in a deep jumper to key an 11-0 run that gave Snohomish a 23-22 lead with just under five minutes to play in the third quarter.
“It was the difference in the game,” Panthers senior Courtney Perry said of her teammate’s second-half performance. “Maya really stepped up and did what we needed her to do.”
Led by DuChesne, Snohomish scored 19 points in the third quarter after managing just 12 combined in the first two periods.
“I think we were a little timid the first half,” DuChesne said, “and then (in the) second half we just had a little more courage.”
On the opening possession of the fourth quarter, Kinslee Gallatin swished a 3-pointer to stretch the Panthers’ lead to 34-29.
Later in the period, 6-foot-3 Lake Washington freshman Elise Hani made a pair of baskets and sank two free throws to cut the deficit to 36-35 with 3:32 to play.
That remained the score until the Kangaroos’ head coach was issued a technical foul with 44.2 seconds remaining after he appeared to touch one of the referees following a non-foul call. DuChesne went to the line and calmly sank the pair of technical-foul free throws to give Snohomish a three-point cushion.
Then after Lake Washington got a stop on defense, DuChesne came up with a steal and was fouled with 5.9 seconds to play. She missed the front end of the 1-and-1 situation, and the Kangaroos rebounded and called a timeout to set up one final shot.
Off a sideline inbound play, Lake Washington got a semi-contested look at a potential game-tying 3-pointer, but the ball clanked off the rim at the buzzer and Snohomish players converged at midcourt to celebrate a Hardwood Classic berth.
“It’s not like any other experience,” DuChesne said of playing in the Tacoma Dome. “Especially with this group, it’s going to be really fun to be with each other. … I’m just really excited to experience it with this team.”
Hani led Lake Washington with 14 points and Sophia Liesse added 10 for the KingCo 3A/2A champions. The loss ended a breakthrough season for the Kangaroos, who won just two games each of the previous two years.