MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Top-ranked King’s and No. 3 Archbishop Thomas Murphy have been on a collision course all season.
The small school titans will finally hook up in the finals of the Class A Tri-district girls basketball tournament tonight at Mountlake Terrace High School.
King’s had little difficulty taming the No. 8 Coupeville Wolves 60-37 in a Feb. 22 semifinal matchup at Mountlake Terrace for its 16th straight victory and 20th of the season.
A 12-0 first-quarter run sparked by back-to-back baskets from freshman point guard Sara Mosiman gave the Knights a double-digit lead they never relinquished.
“We did a nice job pounding it inside, especially when they went zone,” King’s coach Eric Rasmussen said. “That’s probably as well as our interior passing has been all year.”
Senior guard Christina Wikstrom poured in 12 of her game-high 14 points in the first half on 6-for-10 shooting. Her putback to end the second quarter capped an 8-2 spurt that increased King’s advantage to 35-16 at the break.
“She’s about the most competitive kid you could find,” Rasmussen said. “She just does so many things well. She had our best defensive effort and does a lot of good things on the offensive end. It seems like she’s always around the ball.”
While King’s (20-2 overall) shot an electric 17-for-32 from the field in the first half, the Wolves (16-6) were just 6-for-17 and missed their last six attempts of the half.
The Knights held Coupeville’s leading scorer Brianne King to one field goal in the first half. The senior guard — who burned King’s for 31 points in the opening round of districts two years ago — scored five of her 11 points in the fourth quarter.
“We said she’s going to get her 12 or 14, just not 30,” Rasmussen said. “Trying to keep her under control was the biggest thing.”
Sophomore forward Hayley Zevenbergen struck for eight of her 10 points in the third quarter for the Knights, who led by as many as 24.
“We were playing tough defense,” said King’s senior Rachel Strand, who also finished with 10 points. “They weren’t getting many shots. We pretty much stifled them and we hustled down the floor.”
Already assured of their 12th consecutive trip to the state championships, the Knights will attempt to extend their streak of three straight Tri-district titles against Archbishop Murphy. Regardless of the outcome, both teams are guaranteed No. 1 seeds to state.
The Wildcats (21-1) have won a school record 20 games in a row and are coming off a convincing 49-28 semifinal victory over Emerald City League champion Cedar Park Christian.
King’s topped Archbishop Murphy 54-44 two years ago for the Tri-district crown in the teams’ only previous meeting.
Sisters Lauren and Lisa Coate combined for 65 points in ATM’s two playoff wins and present the Knights with a stiff defensive challenge down low.
“That gives them another presence inside and makes them that much more difficult,” Rasmussen said of the emergence of Lisa Coate, a 5-foot-11 freshman. “Their top three or four perimeter kids are solid too.”
The Knights dismantled Bush 66-26 in the opening round of the playoffs Feb. 19 behind sophomore Clarissa Sather’s season-high 14 points. It was King’s seventh win by 40 or more points this season.
“Our coach says, ‘OK, this is when it starts. This is the real competition,’” Strand said.