MOUNT VERNON - Sehome seniors Rachel Albert, Meagan McIntyre and Hallie Messenger were the last people out of the locker room, all red eyes, tears and bruises, but also pride despite the sting of a lopsided loss that left them one game short of state.
In a winner-to-state game that left no doubt which team was better on this night, Sehome's 54-35 loss to Archbishop Murphy in the Class 2A District 1/2 Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 16, did not prevent the Mariners' three leaders from expressing their appreciation for each other. And for the younger teammates who have learned from them.
"It's been an awesome ride," said Albert. "We really are like family."
McIntyre and Messenger nodded in emotional agreement.
"It's been an honor to play with these two," McIntyre said. "This has been the best time of my life."
"So blessed, I've been so blessed to play with my best friends," said Messenger.
Sehome coach Kim Kirk let the trio linger long in the locker room to share their private career-ending pain while she began talking about what they have meant to her and the school.
"I'll never forget them. These are absolutely incredible kids with incredible hearts," said Kirk. "They definitely made an impact."
Archbishop Murphy - which made the Mariners the 14th team they have held to 35 or fewer points - chose a unique way to squelch the emotions of Sehome's wild 52-47 comeback victory over Lynden in an overtime elimination game two nights earlier.
While 6-foot-2 Beth Carlson, who has signed a Division I scholarship with Santa Clara, contented herself early on primarily with rebounding, four other shooters contributed as the Wildcats (19-4) made 8 of their first 11 3-point attempts for a 28-10 advantage two minutes into the second quarter.
Carlson, playing with a heavy knee brace and displaying the poise of a Division I prospect, took over from there and scored 16 of her game-high 20 points following that startling barrage of 3-pointers. Carlson's three fourth-quarter baskets gave the Wildcats a 52-33 advantage.
"It was pick your poison," Kirk said, knowing full well that if she did not focus defensively from the start on the mighty Carlson, the game would probably be no contest.
Since it's not easy to nail 8 of 11 3-pointers in practice, much less in a game, the Wildcats' fans went nuts as the Sehome followers sat stunned in the Mount Vernon stands by the remarkable show of lethal long-range shooting.
Seniors MaireMichael Carroll and Anna Maher finished with three 3-pointers apiece (Maher had Archbishop's only 3-pointer of the second half). Six-foot freshman Madison Pollack, like Carroll, hit a pair of 3s in the opening moments. Megan Wall, another quick, talented freshman, chipped in with the eighth 3 of the run.
Maher and Carroll came in averaging 7.7 and 7.0 points in three tournament games, while Carlson and Pollack came in averaging a combined 24 points mostly on muscle, so Sehome (12-12) just did what figured to work best defensively.
Archbishop Murphy, however, spoiled everything by going 20 for 41 from the field. Sehome went 11 for 41, although the Wildcats' defensive emphasis on limiting Albert did open up 3-point opportunies. Sophomore guard Megan Bayless hit three 3-pointers and McIntyre and Messenger made two each as the Mariners finished with more 3-pointers (7) than 2-pointers (4).
Albert - who had 17 points in the fourth quarter and overtime against Lynden and finished with 29 - obviously made a huge impression on Archbishop's coaches. The defensive calls they made limited Albert to 12 shots from the field and six points.
Albert and Carlson, who shot only 14 times but made eight, both finished with 10 rebounds.
Albert's all-out effort was typified by a dive to the court for a loose ball - followed by a similar dive by McIntyre - in the final seconds of the third quarter with the Mariners trailing 44-23.
Bayless, who may be the next big offensive threat at Sehome, led the Mariners with nine points, all on 3-pointers. Messenger scored eight, McIntyre and Albert six, and sophomore Maddy Bryan had five.
Archbishop Murphy will play in the regional portion of the 2A State Tournament in a one-game survival test at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, against Chehalis W.F. West at Tumwater High School.
ARCHBISHOP MURPHY 54, SEHOME 35
Sehome 10 8 5 12- 35
Archbishop Murphy 16 20 8 10-54
Sehome: Rachel Albert 6, Meagan McIntyre 6, Hallie Messenger 8, Megan Bayless 9, Maddy Bryan 5, Jenny McIntyre 1, Mackenzie Caldwell, Danielle Strasser, Sarah Swan, Alia Jones. Team totals: 11-41 6-13 35.
Archbishop Murphy: Beth Carlson 20, Anna Maher 9, MaireMichael Carroll 9, Madison Pollock 7, Megan Wall 5, Gemma Miller 2, Addison Schmidt, Gabby Ducheane, Alyson Matriotti, Elianna Lucas, Madeline Maher. Team totals: 20-41 5-6 54.
3-ptg: Sehome 7 (Bayless 3); Archbishop Murphy 9 (Maher 3, Carroll 3). Rebounds: Sehome 20 (Albert 10); Archbishop Murphy 27 (Carlson 10). Assists: Sehome 4; Archbishop Murphy 6 (Pollack, Carroll 2). Fouls: Sehome 7; Archbishop Murphy 16.