EVERSON - Last year, Nooksack senior Kaycee DeBruin passed up an opportunity to hit a game-winning shot as time expired. The Pioneers ended up losing that game.
It's something she vowed she wouldn't do twice.
With 4.5 seconds remaining in a 35-35 tie on Friday, Feb. 8, in a Class 1A Northwest District Tournament elimination game, DeBruin's moment of redemption was within grasp.
And just as easily as she received the pass, DeBruin stepped into a 3-pointer without hesitation and propelled the Pioneers past Mount Baker, 38-35.
"I get yelled a lot for not shooting in a good way, and I just said we have nothing to lose, and I needed (to shoot) it." DeBruin said. "It felt amazing. I can't even explain it."
Nooksack moves on to play Blaine Saturday, Feb. 9, at 1 p.m. in Mountlake Terrace in a third place elimination game.
Despite the win, Nooksack coach Shane Wichers was happy to see his team move on, even if the final minutes were difficult to bear.
Or at least that's what he said after watching his team turn the ball over six times in the final 5:09, something he credited to nerves in the final minutes of an elimination game.
"We just panicked, and I just told them to calm down," Wichers said.
Panic set in on the Pioneers' players once Mount Baker coach Brenda Ellis employed the help of a full-court press. The press sparked a 12-5 Mount Baker run over the final 5:09 aided by six Nooksack turnovers, but all efforts of a comeback ended once DeBruin's 3-pointer went in.
But the Mountaineers, who saw their season come to an end Friday night, left knowing that if DeBruin didn't sink two clutch 3-pointers in the final minute, they could have been moving on instead of the Pioneers.
"With a game like this, I thought they did really well and they finished really strong," Ellis said of her team. "I really feel this is the best we've played all season."
Both teams struggled mightily throughout the game to make shots, especially in the first quarter when the teams combined for 10 points on 3 of 20 shooting. Mount Baker finished the game 10 of 49 from the field, while Nooksack struggled just as much, managing a similar 14 of 44.
DeBruin led Nooksack with 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting, while fellow senior Melissa Stadt chipped in 11 points, eight rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.
Mount Baker sophomore Emily Yost, the only returning player off last year's varsity team, had a monster 14-point, 16-rebound night.
For Nooksack Valley, the season is extended at least one more game.
"Playoffs are tough wins," Wichers said. "We just did whatever we had to do to win. I'm excited for the chance to play (Saturday)."
NOOKSACK VALLEY 38, MOUNT BAKER 35
Mount Baker 4 9 10 12 - 35
Nooksack 6 10 10 12 - 38
MB: Emily Brandland 9, Jessa Baisden 4, Taylor Leger 0 , Emma Lallas 8, Korrinna Camacho 0, Emily Yost 14, Rayedeen Engels 0, Emme Leigh Cline 0.Team totals: 10-49, 12-15, 35.
Nooksack: Kaycee DeBruin 13, Taryn Tenkley 0, Lauren Dykstra 2, Lindsay Hayes 0, Julie Campos 0, Mariah Perry 8, Lindy Swanson 2, Morgan Perry 2, Melissa Stadt 11. Team totals: 14-44, 5-6, 38.
3-ptg: MB 3 (Lallas 2), Nooksack 5 (DeBruin 3). Rebounds: MB 26 (Yost 16); Nooksack 32 (Swanson 10). Fouls: MB 14, Nooksack 14. Turnovers: MB 17, Nooksack 20.