HOQUIAM — The Elma Eagles are now one win away from a disrict championship that eluded them a season ago.
Led by Jalyn Sackrider’s 21 points and another solid defensive effort, the Eagles routed Stevenson 73-40 in a semifinal matchup of the 1A District IV Tournament on Friday at Hoquiam High School.
After not seeing in-game competition for 13 days due postponements caused by this month’s snowstorms, Elma (19-2 overall) was chomping at the bit to get back into game action.
“It’s been about 10 or 11 days we’ve been in the gym with each other,” Elma head coach Lisa Johnson said. “We had to kick off the cobwebs a little bit but we’ve been getting after it and were ready to compete. We were getting on each other’s nerves a little bit on Wednesday. We just needed to get a game in.”
The Eagles showed a bit of rust on the offensive end in the early going, shooting just 6-for-29 from the field in the first eight minutes of the game.
It didn’t matter because, despite the long layoff, Elma’s defense was in top form. The Eagles hampered and hindered Stevenson ball-handlers with their full-court press, allowing the Bulldogs offense just 12 shots in the frame and a total of 23 in the entire first half.
“I thought we played great defense,” Johnson said of an Eagles effort that allowed just one Stevenson field goal in the first half. “We got the stops. We weren’t hitting our shots at the other end and were kind of throwing the ball around a little bit, which I chalk up to just not playing a game in awhile. But I thought we looked pretty good.”
Once the Elma offensive machine oiled its gears, shots started falling and the Eagles’ lead expanded. The Eagles outpaced Stevenson (15-7) by 12 points in the second quarter, led by Sackrider, who scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting in the period to give Elma a 34-16 lead at the half.
Elma’s offense continued to round into playoff form after the break as the Eagles shot a combined 9-of-14 (64 percent) in the third quarter, extending their lead to 52-19 on a Molly Johnston bucket in the paint at the 3:39 mark.
Elma held a 57-30 lead entering the fourth quarter and played its bench through most of the final frame.
Aside from Sackrider, Elma guard Jillian Bieker scored in double figures, tallying 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field.
“We just had to get those jitters out and run the court like coach said,” Bieker commented. “We were playing really intense. … Once we got into (the game), we started making good passes and swung the ball around. … We were smart with our passes and made our shots tonight.”
Stevenson was led by Kaitlin Wenz, who scored 17 points, 13 of those coming in the second half while the majority of Elma’s starters rested.
The victory sends Elma to the district championship game for the second-consecutive season, where it will face King’s Way Christian (16-9) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Kelso High School.
After suffering a gut-wrenching defeat to La Center in last season’s title game followed by a loss to league-rival Montesano that ousted the Eagles from the regional tournament, Elma is focused on what it needs to do to emerge victorious.
“We need to come out a play Elma basketball,” Johnson said. “Do all the little things that make a championship team.”
“King’s Way is our rival,” Bieker said. “They are a very different team than when we last played them (Elma 44-23 win on Dec. 8). We just need to take it easy, rest up and play like we did tonight.”
Stevenson 10 6 14 10 — 40
Elma 16 18 23 16 — 73
Top Players: Elma — Sackrider (21 pts.), Bieker (14 pts.), Burgher (9 pts.), Quin Mikel (7 pts.), Kali Rambo (6 pts.), Allie Bol (6 pts.), Kayli Johnson (5 pts.), Molly Johnston (3 pts.), Ella Moore (2 pts.); Stevenson — Wenz (17 pts.), Katie Rathgeber (8 pts.).
2B District IV Semifinals
Ilwaco 61, Willapa Valley 56
Willapa Valley couldn’t sink enough of its free throws down the stretch to pull off the upset and lost 61-56 to Ilwaco on Friday night in Montesano.
The third meeting between the Vikings (18-5) and Fishermen (21-1) featured back-and-forth and action with the neither team opening up a lead larger than nine points.
Hannah Cook paced a hot-shooting Willapa Valley offense with 19 points on 50-percent shooting.
The Vikings stayed close with the Fisherman thanks in part to their 3-point shooting, going 9-for-23 from deep.
Ilwaco’s Erika Glenn helped put the game away by banking in a 3-point shot in the final minute to put the Fishermen up 58-53.
Vikings head coach John Peterson wasn’t too upset about the loss, but would have liked to see his team shoot better than 9-of-20 at the free-throw line.
“The first time they beat us by seven, then they got us by eight and now they got us by five,” he said. “All you can ask for is an opportunity and we got to the line and we didn’t convert when we needed to.”
Willapa Valley will compete in the 2B Regional Playoff on Feb 22-23.
— Hasani Grayson, Grays Harbor News Group
Wahkiakum 62, Ocosta 35
The Ocosta Wildcats found out why Wahkiakum is the top-ranked team in the state in the 2B section, losing to the Mules 62-35 on Friday in the 2B District IV semis at Kelso High School.
Ocosta (16-6) trailed 21-16 after the first quarter but failed to score in double digits for each of the following three frames as the Mules defense shut down the Wildcats offense.
Wahkiakum shooting guard Macie Elliot scored 27 points, including four 3-pointers for a Mules team that hit 10 shots from beyond the arc in the game.
Ocosta was led by Kjristin Hopfer, who scored 17 points.
Kaylee Barnum added 12 points for Ocosta, which will play in the 2B Regional Playoffs beginning Feb. 22.
The Mules (21-1) will face Ilwaco for the 2B District IV championship at 6 p.m. on Saturday at WF West High School.
2B District IV Consolation
Raymond 53, Chief Leschi 40
It took awhile for the Raymond Seagulls to get on track in Friday’s 2B District IV consolation game against the Chief Leschi Warriors. Once they did, there was no stopping them.
Trailing 12-4 after one period, the Seagulls offense caught fire, outscoring the Warriors 49-28 the rest of the way to earn a 53-40 playoff-game victory at Castle Rock High School.
“After the first quarter ended and we finally showed up to play we were able weather the storm,” Raymond head coach Jason Koski said. “We limited Chief Leschi to contested shots instead of open threes.”
Raymond freshman and First Team all-league player Kyra Gardner, who was held to two points in the first quarter, ignited the second-quarter outburst, hitting three 3-pointers and scoring 10 of her team-high 20 points in the frame to help trim Elma’s deficit to 24-22 at the half.
Gardner had plenty of help in the second half. Izzy Silvernail, who scored eight points of her own in the second quarter, totalled 17 points on the evening and teammate Hannah Miller scored all of her 13 points after the halftime break, allowing Raymond to take a 36-30 lead heading to the fourth quarter.
Raymond’s defense allowed just three field goals the entire second half to secure the victory.
“It was great to see us get some quality minutes from our bench,” Koski said, adding the performances of Silvernail, Sidney Swogger and Sadie Warnstadt were key in the Seagulls’ 14th victory of the season. “(They) really contributed well for us.”
Raymond (14-9) will face league-rival South Bend on Saturday for a winner-take-all trip to the regional playoffs. Game time is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at Rochester High School.
South Bend 47, Onalaska 34
South Bend’s defense shut down Onalaska in the second half to secure a 47-34 victory in the consolation round of the 2B District IV Tournament on Friday in Elma.
South Bend (14-9) started the game on a 7-0 run en route to a 16-11 first-quarter lead.
But Onalaska (13-10) bounced back to take the lead as the Indians went cold from the floor, scoring just six points in the second quarter.
“We played hard, just a bit out of control,” South Bend head coach Gary Wilson said.
South Bend relied on its defense in the second half, and it delivered. The Indians shut down the Loggers offense, allowing a single point in the third quarter and 10 points total for the half.
“Starting the second half, we were back to playing strong offensively,” Wilson said. “The girls know the better their defense is, the better everything else is. Giving up only 10 points in the second half really speaks for itself.”
Senior point guard Hannah Byington led the Indians with 18 points.
“Byington played a strong game for us, hitting long-range shots and attacking the rim,” Wilson said. “The seniors all hit big shots when we needed them most. Their experience is a big part of our success.”
South Bend plays Raymond at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Rochester High School, with a trip to the regional playoffs on the line.