TUMWATER — The Willapa Valley girls basketball team will be heading to the state tournament for the first time since 2003 after the Vikings used a second-half comeback to thwart Lake Roosevelt 44-35 on Friday.
After scoring just 14 points in the first half, Willapa Valley (19-5 overall) found an offensive rhythm after halftime to keep its season alive.
“We struggled in the first half and couldn’t get out of our own way,” Willapa Valley head coach John Peterson said. “We told the girls at the half, ‘We’ve played awful and we’re only down two. If we just play a good second half, we’re winning.” And we did.”
The Vikings scored more points in the third quarter (15) than they did the entire first half. They took control of the game in the fourth period, outscoring the Raiders (15-9) 15-6 to earn the 2B Regional Playoff win.
Willapa Valley’s Brooke Friese led the way in the second half, scoring 16 of her team-high 18 points after halftime. The fearless senior guard caught fire from downtown, hitting four 3-pointers over the final 16 minutes of play to help secure the Vikings’ victory.
“Thank God for Brooke,” Peterson said of his athletic guard. “She was everywhere in the second half. When she gets hot, you get her the ball and she will score. … She and (Willapa Valley senior) Hannah Cook just kept playing and they weren’t going to let us lose.”
Cook added seven points and a team-best five assists for the Vikings.
Junior forward Britney Patrick scored nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Willapa Valley, which also got seven points from junior guard Katie Adkins.
After earning the program’s first trip to the state tournament in 16 years, Peterson beamed with pride over what his team had accomplished.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of these kids. They never questioned, they just believed,” he said. “We told them to just keep grinding, and they have. … No one can ever question our heart, desire or work ethic. We are first rate there.”
With the win, No. 11 Willapa Valley will take on No. 6 Liberty at 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday in the opening round of the 2B State Tournament in Spokane.
“We just went from the frying pan and into the fire,” Peterson said of Willapa Valley’s next opponent.” “Liberty is a fine team, but you know what? I’ve said it a couple of times this season. I like my team. … We preach defense and rebounding. If we can do that, we got a chance.”
1B Regional Playoffs
Riverside Christian 54, Taholah 52
The Taholah Chitwhins’ season ended on Friday with a 54-52 loss to Riverside Christian in a 1B Regional Playoff game at Davis High School.
No further information was provided at the time of this writing.