Sunday, March 6, 2016
|A smiling Julia Strand cuts down the net|
Photo by Frank Workman
By Frank Workman
When the Shorecrest girls' basketball team arrived in Yakima for last week's 2A State Tournament, they were the unknown quantity, easy to overlook.
After all, their record of 15-10 was the worst of all eight teams to play in the Sundome. Teams that have tasted defeat that often usually are just happy to be there, and their expectations are low.
But not so with the Scots, as they crushed all three opponents they faced in Yakima on their way to winning the school's first basketball state championship.
Thursday they waylaid Washougal, 59-42, in the quarter-finals.
Friday it was East Valley (Spokane) that had the poor fortune to get in the way of the Shorecrest juggernaut in the semis.
And Saturday the team saved their best for last, avenging a 52-45 District tournament loss to the Lynden Lions by roaring from behind in the second half on their way to a 49-43 win in the championship game.
The Scots led early in the first quarter, only to see the Lions finish the quarter with a three point lead, 15-12.
When tournament MVP Uju Chibuogwu was whistled for her third foul early in the second quarter, things looked bleak for the Scots.
Junior post player Sheridan Stephenson came off the bench to replace Uju and her rugged studly defense helped hold Lynden to one measly field goal in the quarter. Still, the Scots trailed by five at the half, 22-17.
The Scots caught fire to start the second half, scoring the first seven points to take the lead, 24-22. Lynden regained the lead until Uju broke a tie with a three-point play at 2:38, giving Shorecrest a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Leading 34-29 to start the final quarter, junior Jazlyn Owens calmly drained a pair of threes early in the quarter. When Stephenson scored from close range with just under ninety seconds to play to stretch the lead to eleven, 45-34, many of the fans who made the journey were dancing in the stands.
After the game, Scots coach Dori Monson told the press "Our goal was to be playing our best ball in February and March, and the girls came out and did just that. Jazlyn Owens raised her game throughout the tournament, especially tonight, to give us a fourth scorer to go along with Uju, Wurrie, and Julia Strand. Plus, she was a great floor leader".
Senior Wurrie Njadoe, who along with sophomore Strand, made the second-team All Tournament Team, believes the tough WesCo 3A schedule they played benefitted the team.
"Lynnwood, Glacier Peak, Ed-Way and Arlington really helped us. They brought our intensity out".
Uju agreed. "The teams in our league pushed us to play better".
Shorecrest Scots. State Champs.
It has a ring to it.
Lynden 15 7 7 14 43
Shorecrest 12 5 17 15 49