Hopes of winning the program’s first state championship were dashed following a defeat in the Class 2A semifinals, but the Black Hills High School girls basketball team still left Yakima with some very impressive hardware.
Led by the play of 2A Evergreen Conference MVP Emma Duff and sophomore Maisy Williams, the Wolves produced their best season in more than a decade by bringing home the fifth-place trophy – the second consecutive state placing and their highest since 2003 when Black Hills finished third.
Black Hills (24-3) entered the state tournament as the top-ranked team after winning its conference and district championships for a second straight year.
The Wolves opened play in the Yakima SunDome by overwhelming Central Washington Athletic Conference champion Wapato (55-38) in the quarterfinals.
Black Hills raced out to a comfortable 36-18 advantage at the intermission before cruising to a win which placed them in the semifinals for the first time since 2007.
Williams paced the Wolves with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while teammates Duff and Taylor Patti scored 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Black Hills held a decisive edge in rebounds, pulling down a remarkable 56 boards, with 28 coming on the offensive end of the court, to Wapato’s 39. Williams was the only player to grab double-digit rebounds, but all 11 players who saw action registered at least one rebound for the Wolves with seven players pulling down five or more.
The victory was the 20th in a row for Black Hills. A late push in the fourth quarter by Burlington Edison in the semifinals, however, made sure the streak would not reach 21 as they knocked off the Wolves, 59-55.
The Wolves led by as many as 10 points against the Tigers and held their opponent to under 20 percent shooting in the first half, but Burlington Edison kept chipping away at the deficit before tying the contest at 40 at the end of the third quarter.
Black Hills was forced to play without Williams, who led all scorers with 21 points, for the final 3 minutes of the game after the forward caught an elbow during a scramble for the ball, resulting in a lost tooth.
Burlington Edison was able to build a six-point lead in the final minute. A 3-pointer by Black Hills’ junior Lindsey Nurmi made it a one-possession game with 30 seconds remaining, but the Wolves were unable to get any closer.
Playing without Williams in its final game of the season, Black Hills faced EvCo rival W.F. West for the third-place trophy.
The Wolves had won all three previous meetings against the Bearcats this season, including a 36-33 victory in the district title game, but were unable to complete the season sweep as they lost 51-50.
A Nurmi jumper pushed the Black Hills’ lead to 47-37 after three quarters, but the Wolves would go ice-cold from the field in the final frame, hitting just 1 of 11 shots.
That one made bucket came from Duff, whose 3 with 5:18 to play gave Black Hills a 50-39 lead. W.F. West would answer with a 12-0 run.
Duff, who has signed to play next year at Western Washington University, capped her stellar high school with a 21-point effort against the Bearcats. Freshman Megan River added 11 points in the loss.
The fifth-place finish marks the third best in program history, falling only behind the third place in 2003 and the 1999 squad’s second place.
In addition to Duff, the Wolves will also graduate seniors Patti, Rachel LaBelle, Kayley Moloney and Meghan Reichert from this year’s team.
3A Boys Basketball State Tournament
The Cougars, champions of the 3A South Sound Conference, lost to former Narrows League foe Wilson, 58-53, in the opening round.
Playing the eighth consecutive game without senior T.J. Mickelson, the conference MVP who suffered a season-ending broken collarbone on January 31, Capital showed plenty of gumption by advancing to state for just the second time in 21 years and the first since 2009.
Guard Chris Penner scored a team-high 20 points for the Cougars (22-5), while fellow sophomore Grant Erickson and senior Matt Mickelson each added 11 points against the Rams.
Timberline (18-8) lost in the first round to Seattle Prep, 71-53. The Blazers received 12 points from both Tariq Romain and Hunter Campau.