Lake Stevens girls defended their District championship by beating Monroe 46-44 at Marysville on February 19 and then beat Kentwood 61-44 at the Regional Tournament at Jackson to advance to the Tacoma Dome this Thursday for the fifth time in the past six seasons.
Lake 46 Monroe 44 (District Championship)
Coach Randall Edens’ Vikings beat Monroe for the third time in three tries this season (earlier by 63-59 and 62-41) and it looked at first like Lake would roll to victory in this one, leading 14-3 in the early going. But it ended up being decided with Monroe star Suzanna Ohlsen missing a game-tying shot at the buzzer.
Usually a reluctant shooter, point guard Corinne Burke scored all 11 of her points in the fourth quarter where she connected on three of three threes, the first two of which erased a Monroe lead and the third giving Lake a 44-38 lead with 1:23 remaining. She made a pair of free throws with 17 seconds left for a 46-41 lead but Lake had to survive a last-ditch Monroe surge to hang on for the win.
While Burke’s clutch fourth quarter scoring and Abby Molstre’s team-leading 15 points hogged the headlines, it was an under the radar but quietly sensational performance by forward Meghan Warbis which was most valuable of all for the Vikings. Check out Warbis’ line in this championship game: 23 rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocked shots. If all you saw in the line score were her three points you would have no inkling of her overall game.
Three baskets by Brooke Pahukoa, two by Molstre and a three by Katie Goddard propelled Lake to an early 14-3 lead. But baskets late in the quarter by Ohlsen and Kierra Wilkins were a portent of Monroe’s tenacity.
Monroe edged closer in the second quarter, which saw Goddard’s three, five seconds before halftime, give Lake an uneasy 24-18 lead at intermission.
Monroe outscored Lake 14-6 in the third quarter to take a 32-30 lead entering the fourth. A put-back and a three by Ashley Alexander inside the final minute pushed the Bearcats into the lead with a quarter to play.
Ohlsen, as expected, took her team on her shoulders in the fourth quarter, scoring nine of Monroe’s 12 points in the period (half of her game-high total of 18).
Molstre’s lay-in was followed by one by Ohlsen as Monroe stayed ahead 34-32 with 6:55 left. With six minutes left Burke swished the first of her trio of threes to put Lake ahead by 35-34.
Two free throws by Brittney Pahukoa increased Lake’s lead to 37-34 with 5:33 left, but Ohlsen drove the length of the floor immediately after that for a lay-in to make it 37-36.
At the five minute mark Ohlsen drained a 16-footer to give the Bearcats a 38-37 lead.
Burke swished her second three at 4:16 to regain the lead for Lake at 40-38.
One of two free throws by Warbis made it 41-38 at 3:33 and there was no more scoring until Burke bombed in her third three at 1:23 to make it 44-38.
But the Bearcats refused to fold. Erika Snell’s three with 1:07 left cut it to 44-41.
Burke’s pair at the line made it 46-41 but Ohlsen’s three-point play with 10 seconds left reduced the margin to 46-44.
Goddard missed two free throws with seven seconds left. That was ample time for Ohlsen to drive down court where under heavy pressure she missed a ten-footer from the right baseline as time ran out.
In this physical, defensively scrappy game both teams were held to relatively low 31 percent shooting percentage. Lake made 16 of 52 field goals (including six of 12 threes), while Monroe went 18 of 59 (including four of 15 threes). Both teams struggled to make free throws -- Lake was nine of 18 at the line to Monroe’s four of 10.
Monroe’s fullcourt press took a toll on Lake, which committed 26 turnovers to Monroe’s 17. The Bearcats compiled 10 of their 16 steals in the first half.
Lake’s victory was significantly enabled by its domination of the backboards where it took down 53 rebounds to Monroe’s 32. Warbis’ 23 rebounds combined with 10 by Molstre were one more than the Bearcats managed for the entire game.
Lake 61 Kentwood 44 (Winner to Tacoma Dome on Thursday)
Lake’s depth, experience and poise made the difference in its win over Kentwood. After a close first half Lake made it look easy after intermission, holding Kenwood to zero of eight field goals in the third quarter and leading by as many as 20 points in the fourth.
Though several Vikings made important contributions to the win, once again it was Warbis who topped the list with 16 points (six for nine from the field), 12 rebounds, three assists, five steals and a blocked shot.
Corinne Burke scored only two points (she took just two shots) but steered her team to victory with 12 assists while committing just one turnover.
Brooke Pahukoa scored 14 points (she was six for six at the line) and had four rebounds and she (among other Vikings) did a good job defending Kentwood’s heralded point guard Kylie Huerta, who scored 17 points but had eight turnovers.
The Conquerors gave Lake plenty of competition in the first half, with Lake staying barely ahead at 16-14 at the quarter break and 30-26 at halftime.
Brittney Pahukoa and Goddard had two baskets apiece (including a three each) in the first quarter while Molstre also scored a couple of lay-ins off of nice feeds by (who else?) Burke.
Lake led 27-22 on Goddard’s three with 2:13 left in the half, but it took Molstre’s put-back at the buzzer to give the Vikings its four point lead, 30-26 at halftime.
Viking defense wrecked the Conquerors in the third quarter. Not only did the latter fail to record a single field goal in eight attempts, it committed nine turnovers in the period, as Lake eased to a 44-31 lead entering the fourth. Lake’s third quarter offense was boosted by Warbis’ eight points including three baskets (one of them a three).
Eight points by Brooke Pahukoa in the fourth quarter fueled the route, which saw Lake lead by 57-37 with 2:56 left.
Lake shot well from the field and at the line. The Vikings made 23 of 48 field goals (including four of 10 threes) for 47 percent. Kenwood made 17 of 48 field goals (including three of 11 threes) for 35 percent. Lake made 11 of 15 free throws, Kentwood seven of 12. Kentwood edged Lake in rebounds, 31 to 30. Lake turned the ball over 15 times, Kentwood 22.
Lake (21-3) has the potential to make a serious run at the Tacoma Dome where it will be one of four or five teams who could contend. In any case, as one of the state’s eight 4A teams still alive, Lake has assured itself of bringing home a trophy.