Mount Baker has had a number of talented players and strong girls basketball teams over the past decade. But the Mountaineers haven’t been able to get into the state’s “Sweet 16” since 2005, when they placed fourth at state.
That string came to an end Saturday at Mountlake Terrace, when Mount Baker rolled past University Prep 61-26 in a winner-to-state game in the Class 1A bi-district tournament.
“We were definitely aware that it had been a while, and they were pretty amped up to play,” second-year Mount Baker coach Kim Preston said.
The Mountaineers (20-4) move on to next week’s regional round of the 1A state tournament. With the No. 8 ranking in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s new RPI rankings, they will avoid an elimination game next week and instead will play for a trip to the quarterfinals, already assured a trip to Yakima in two weeks.
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Regional pairings will be announced Sunday, but it’s likely Mount Baker will have to face unbeaten Cashmere in that non-elimination game.
It’s an opportunity 12 years in the making.
“It’s this group’s selflessness,” Preston said. “As a group, they’re committed to a team-first approach. They know every player on the floor and the bench has the confidence of the coaches and each other.”
That selflessness was on full display Saturday, especially on the defensive end, where Mount Baker held the Pumas to six points in the first half.
“They really bought in that on the defensive end of the floor, we can control the game, control the tempo,” Preston said. “They are tenacious, holding teams significantly below their scoring average.”
The Mountaineers’ selflessness also was on display at the other end, where eight players scored and everyone played their part, Preston said.
Danielle Tyler led the way with 22 points, and Kylind Powell scored 11.
“Danielle Tyler had a great night,” Preston said. “She’s absolutely a big-game player. She stepped up huge, and on the defensive end, she was amazing. ... She has a great ability to turn her defense into offense, and gets other people involved by distributing the ball.”
Mount Baker 61, University Prep 26
Mount Baker: Haylee Malone 3, Stephanie Soares 13, Danielle Tyler 22, Jessica Soares 4, Portia Allred 0, Breanna Hesyck 0, Kylind Powell 11, Jordan LaTorre 0, Abby Yost 2, McKenzie Yost 3, Aine Neithardt-Smith 0, Camryn Bertrand 3. Total: 61.
University Prep: Courtney Zell 0, Vera Leshinsky 0, Sarah Katz 3, Melissa Funes 8, Tseion Amare 0, Olivia Poolos 0, Lillian Bown 2, Maggie Scroggs 0, Laura Van Arsdel 4, Karysn Wallace 9. Total: 26.