TACOMA — The Snohomish girls basketball team has defied expectations all season.
That fact helped to give the Panthers a healthy perspective after their 60-51 loss to Mercer Island in a 3A Hardwood Classic semifinal contest Friday at the Tacoma Dome.
After the game, their players were surely disappointed, but they seemed relatively upbeat.
Snohomish coach Ken Roberts wanted them to move on quickly from the loss and focus on winning Saturday’s consolation game against Lincoln to bring home a third-place trophy.
The Panthers realize how far they’ve come in such a short time.
“I’m still proud of where we are,” said Snohomish guard Maya DuChesne. “We were picked to finish third in our league. Now we have a chance for third in state.”
On Friday, the Panthers’ normally stout defense wasn’t able to slow down the Islanders’ attack, which is led by KingCo 2A/3A most valuable player Anna Luce, a 6-foot-2 Harvard commit.
Snohomish’s offense, which was inconsistent at times during the regular season, had similar ups and downs against Mercer Island. The Panthers tallied 16 combined points in the first and fourth quarters, and 35 points in the second and third periods.
Snohomish held a 42-41 lead at the end of the third quarter, but the Islanders took a 48-46 advantage with 4 minutes, 35 seconds remaining and didn’t relinquish their lead, icing their victory with eight free throws in the final 53 seconds.
“Their defensive pressure bothered us all game,” Roberts said, referencing his team’s 18 turnovers. “We made a good run, but they had an answer every time.”
“We missed some free throws, and we let them get some key rebounds,” DuChesne said. “Our defense wasn’t as good as it usually is.”
Luce led the Islanders with 20 points, and teammate Kailee Yan added 18 points.
DuChesne and Kyra Beckman scored 14 points each for the Panthers. Beckman added 10 rebounds.
“It was a tough matchup,” Mercer Island coach Gillian D’Hondt said. “We wanted to keep the ball out of the hands of Beckman and (DuChesne) and close out on their shooters. They are a well-coached team. They kept it tight. But our girls are relentless. They don’t give up.”
“We have confidence in ourselves,” Luce said. “We don’t get frazzled when we’re in tight situations. We keep our composure.”
The Islanders (23-6) will play Bishop Blanchet in Saturday’s 3A title game. Mercer Island lost to the Braves in the regular season but handed the tournament’s top seed their only loss of the season in a 3A SeaKing District 2 tournament contest Feb. 16.
Snohomish (19-7) will play Lincoln at 11:15 a.m. Saturday in a consolation game, with the winner taking third, the loser fifth. Snohomish beat the Abes last Friday in a state regional contest.
“You never know what will happen (in the future). We may not have this opportunity again,” DuChesne said. “We want to get third place. Fifth place is good, too, but we want third.”