Scribed on the wrists of each Sehome girls' basketball players were the words, "I believe."
These words weren't just for show; not at all, actually.
The Mariners needed every bit of belief to pull out a gritty 54-53 win against Lake Washington in the opening round of the Class 2A Northwest District Tournament Saturday, Feb. 9, at Sehome High School.
"I think that's the mindset we took into this game," said Sehome senior post Rachel Albert. "We definitely took it to the other team, and even when we got down, we battled back each time. We pulled it out and it's a big win for us."
With the win, Sehome ended a two-game losing streak dating back to the regular season. The losses were against two of top three teams in the Northwest Conference by 16 and 25, respectively.
"I think it really helped us at the end of the season, even though we didn't get any wins," said Sehome coach Kim Kirk. "It really helped us see we want to be that caliber of team, and (we saw) what it would take, and what we had to do."
The Kangaroos were 8 of 18 from beyond the arc in the first three quarters, and senior guard Margo Lynott's straight-away 3-pointer with 3:24 remaining is what stretched the lead to 10.
"In those situations, you go, 'They can't be that hot all the way through,'" Kirk said. "I knew if we can keep chipping, eventually one of those wouldn't fall and we could get a few of ours."
Sehome, facing its largest deficit of the night down 41-31 with 3:24 remaining in the third, went to a half-court trap defense that changed to momentum of the game.
Before Lake Washington could even react, sophomore guard Maddy Bryan hit three consecutive baskets after consecutive steals, trimming the deficit to just four points, 41-37.
Following a basket off an offensive rebound by Mackenzie Caldwell, Albert picked off a pass in the final seconds and raced down and got fouled in the act of shooting.
Albert sunk both free throws, ending the third quarter tied 41 apiece.
Lake Washington managed just one shot while turning the ball over four times in its final five possessions of the quarter.
"The last couple times we have been down, we kept thinking we would get it back with one shot, and obviously we can't," Albert said. "This time, we took it upon ourselves to work on defense as a group, and to work hard there because our defense leads our offense.
"Getting stops really changed the game for us," Albert said.
After falling behind in each of the previous three quarters, the Mariner's didn't wait for that to happen again.
Bryan, who scored a game-high 18 points, hit an elbow jumper to open the period, followed by a 3-pointer by Megan Bayless. Bryan added a soft baseline floater to get Sehome its largest lead of the game, 48-43.
Sehome's 17-2 run dating back to mid-way through the third quarter, and timely free throws by Meagan McIntyre down the stretch, proved enough to advance into the second round where they will face Cedarcrest on Tuesday, Feb. 12.
Albert finished with nine points, while adding 13 rebounds, three assitts and four steals.
SEHOME 54, LAKE WASHINGTON 53
LW 16 15 10 12 - 53
Sehome 10 14 17 13 - 54
LW: Margo Lynott 15, Sara Wilson 8, Hannah Brender 0, Sydney Shepard 11, Peyton Wozeniak 7, Madison Shepard 2, Carly Rataushk 10. Team Totals: 19-48 5-7 53
Sehome: Rachel Albert 9, Sarah Swan 0, Meagan McIntyre 4, Maddy Bryan 18, Mackenzie Caldwell 4, Megan Bayless 11, Hallie Messenger 8, Danielle Stasser 0 Team totals: 17-40 15-28 54.
3-ptg: LW 9 (Lynott 5), Sehome 5 (Bayless 3). Rebounds: LW 21 (Rataushk 7), Sehome 20 (Albert 13). Assists: LW 12 (Wozeniak 5), Sehome 6 (Albert 3). Fouls: LW 17, Sehome 9. Turnovers: LW 11, Sehome 8.