Make no mistake about it: The Central Valley girls basketball team played near-perfectly all season long. (And most of last season, as well.)
Problem is, the one game CV struggled in the one that would have put the Bears on a path to a state championship. As it happened, Central Valley righted its ship accordingly and finished the 4A state consolation bracket in fourth place in Tacoma on Saturday. And, as the saying goes, it’s always better to go out on a win.
While the hardware was heftier for the Freeman Scotties when the dust settled in Yakima on Saturday evening – nothing wrong with finishing in second place – it’s tough to watch your opponents celebrate on the other side of the court while lifting the 1A first-place trophy.
Finally, the East Valley Lady Knights – certainly considered a dark horse – were eliminated early in the 2A state tourney in Yakima on March 1.
Central Valley girls
CV 47, Sunnyside 26
Whatever lessons that were learned from the March 2 loss (more on that later), they snapped into focus in the Bears’ 47-26 win over Sunnyside on Saturday morning. While the 9:30 a.m. start time meant that both teams started slowly – the score was locked at 10-10 after the first quarter – CV put the screws to the Grizzlies, who could only muster three points in the second quarter to put the Bears up 21-13 at halftime.
CV continued to keep Sunnyside contained the remainder of the game, never panicked and had balanced scoring all around.
Junior Lexie Hull had her best game at the Hardwood Classic by scoring 21 points. She also had eight rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots in the game, which notched the Bears 26th win of the season.
Twin sister Lacie found herself in foul trouble in the closing minutes of the first half on a questionable pushing call – CV head coach Freddie Rehkow was looking for traveling from the Grizzlies – but she finished the game with four points.
Picking up the slack was sophomore Camryn Skaife, who eyed the third-point line from the right side. She made four of seven attempts and finished with 14 points for the Bears.
CV 46, Kentlake 23
Friday’s bounce-back game against a familiar foe – the Bears beat the Falcons earlier in the season – Central Valley aimed to prove earlier it wasn’t going to mess around, going up 17-3 in the first quarter after a 12-0 run to open the proceedings.
In the second half, the Bears led Kentlake 24-13 to make sure the game never got out of hand.
Lacie Hull had a team-high 14 points in the game, and Lexie Hull added eight rebounds and three assists.
Bellarmine Prep 56, Central Valley 55
The biggest shock to come out of Tacoma over the Hardwood Classic weekend was the sound of Bellarmine Prep snapping Central Valley 52-game win streak (stretching back to last season, when the Bears won the 4A title a year ago).
Bellarmine came into the contest with the mindset CV had to lose eventually, and the Bears were uncharacteristically flat. The loss meant that Central Valley would be able to finish no better than fourth in state.
There was some back-and-forth action, and CV did lead 55-54 with just under a minute left in the game on the strength of a pair of free throws from Mady Simmelink. But the team had to finish the game without Lacie Hull, who fouled out with over four minutes to play, who had 14 points, three steals and three assists.
Lexie Hull had 13 points and 12 rebounds. Skaife had 11 points, including a trio of three-pointers.
Zillah, 69, Freeman 53
This was the Scotties second trip to the 1A title game in Yakima in two years, but all attempts to flip the script from 2016’s second-place finish fell short almost immediately. Freeman never gained their footing, nor held a lead for the game’s duration.
To be fair to Freeman, Zillah’s Nate Whitaker was a force to be reckoned with – he had 25 points – and the Leopards made it look easy in a 69-53 win (their second in three years) on Saturday afternoon.
Simply put, the Scotties’ shooting was a dreadful 34.5 percent while their three-point game was practically nonexistent. They made just one three-pointer the entire game.
Freeman 43, King’s 34
Friday’s final win of the season for Freeman ended in a 43-34 score and was a bit of payback after last year’s loss to that same team in the 1A finals. The real satisfaction, though, was that the Scotties would again have a chance to play for the championship.
Michael Coumont had a rare off night, however – he didn’t score until the third quarter – but Ryan Maine stepped up and led all scorers with 20 points.
Defensively, Freeman kept King’s at bay and the Knights were outscored 19-11 in the fourth quarter.
Freeman 67, Warden 48
The Scotties controlled the boards for the majority of the contest, which made all the difference in the 67-48 opener on March 1. Freeman was led by Coumont, who scored a massive 32 points. He also had four assists and five steals. Maine had 12 points and seven rebounds.
East Valley girls
Wapato 57, East Valley 53
The Knights can’t complain how they started against Wapato on March 1 in Yakima – they built a 13-0 lead on the Eagles early in the game – but eventually that crumbled away.
EV (17-7) got 17 points from Brie Holecek. Elle Burland added 11 in the elimination game.