10:27 AM: We’re at the Tacoma Dome, where the West Seattle High School girls’ second trip to the 3A state basketball tournament in three years has just ended after the first game, with a 65-54 loss to Lincoln HS. Congratulations to the Wildcats on this year’s success, including the district-tournament championship. Full story and more photos later.
ADDED 3:46 PM: Story and photos:
With the Lady Abes, the Wildcat girls faced an opponent skilled at the kind of game they themselves had been playing recently – smothering defense, rebound domination.
#20, sophomore Grace Sarver, was the top WSHS scorer this morning with 16 points, five of them in the first two and a half minutes, before any of her teammates got on the scoreboard.
Simply put, Lincoln was fiercer than any of the Wildcats recent opponents. WSHS managed to hold a lead for part of the first quarter, but once the Lady Abes took back the lead at 10-8 before the end of the first quarter, they held it the rest of the way.
WSHS never gave up, though. #11, sophomore Jazz Gayles, their top rebounder today (7) and second-leading scorer (13), was knocked down fairly hard during the first quarter but stayed in the game. She and teammates including #3, senior Izzy Turk, pulled off some good steals.
But at times the ball-handling got a bit sloppy, and the turnovers stacked up.
As the second quarter got going, #32, freshman Meghan Fiso, got in a bit of foul trouble with her second and third in rapid succession as she worked to keep Lincoln #34 Shawndriea Brown in check.
The turnovers and rebounding challenges continued to send things Lincoln’s way, and they rang up nine unanswered points on the way to a 19-8 lead less than two minutes into the second quarter. They capitalized on seemingly every WSHS misstep. And while against other opponents, the Wildcats were able to get past aggressive defense via hot outside shooting, that was seldom an option today, though they did net seven 3-pointers, compared to four by the Lady Abes – one of them happened with three minutes left in the first half, #10, sophomore Jenna McPhee, sinking a 3 after one too-rare-today instance of successive Wildcat rebounds.
After that, Lincoln got the upper hand again and outscored WSHS in the final minutes of the half, which ended with a 33-15 LHS lead, to which they added four points early in the second half, before WSHS scored. Much of the action after this was punctuated by foul shots, until about midway through the third quarter; the Wildcats’ Gayles got two baskets plus a foul shot to trim the Lady Abes’ lead to 43-25, but Lincoln remained relentless, and got its double-digit lead back shortly thereafter.
The Wildcats’ comeback attempts kept coming; a 3-pointer by #4, sophomore Kelsey Lenzie, made it 46-30 with a minute left in the third quarter, which ended 48 Lincoln, 31 West Seattle.
The now-or-never fourth quarter opened with the Wildcats undaunted. They got to within 13 points.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) March 1, 2017
They got a little closer, down 12, 52-40, after an Izzy Turk three-pointer with 5:08 to go. Less than a minute and a half later, McPhee fouled out. The Wildcats kept fighting but time was running out. There was a glimmer of possibility when a Sarver basket took them to 58-47 with 1:20 to go – but though they kept pace, that wasn’t enough to overcome a double-digit lead at that point.
Izzy Turk’s final points for WSHS – she’s on the way to Point Loma Nazarene College next year – came with a cool 3-pointer in the final seconds. The final score was 65-54, and since this was a loser-out game, it wrapped the Wildcats’ season. Sarver got the player-of-the-game/sportsmanship award for WSHS:
Head coach Darnell Taylor‘s starting lineup doesn’t have a single senior, so the Wildcats’ chances for next year look good; now they know what the court looks and feels like at state.
P.S. The WSHS boys got a first-round bye, so their first state game is at 7:15 pm Thursday vs. the winner of a game tonight between Wilson and Capital.
–Photos/story by Patrick Sand/Tracy Record, WSB co-publishers