The Mount Baker girls basketball team may not have come away from Wenatchee with the regional-round win it desperately wanted Saturday. But the Mountaineers found out they have what it takes to push the state’s No. 1 team to the brink.
And the good news? They get a chance to test what they learned next week thanks to the WIAA’s new regional-round format for the state tournament.
With top-seeded Cashmere needing to foul in the final minute, the Bulldogs instead got a jump ball and possession under Mount Baker’s basket. Cami Knishka then made a 3-pointer that gave Cashmere a lead it would not relinquish in a 36-34 victory over the Mountaineers.
“The kids fought hard,” Mount Baker coach Kim Preston said. “That was the toughest pressure defensively we’ve seen all year. They’re a solid team with a lot of veterans that have played in a lot of big games. We’re not there yet, but we’re close.”
Preston said she hopes Saturday’s big game gives her squad some of that seasoning it needs as it heads to the Yakima Valley SunDome next week for the next round of the Class 1A State Torunament.
With the loss, eighth-seeded Mount Baker (20-5) must now play ninth-seeded Zillah in a 2 p.m. elimination game Wednesday. The Leopards beat 16th seed Elma 79-38 in an elimination regional win Saturday to advance to next week.
The winner Wednesday will move on to quarterfinal against Lynden Christian on Thursday.
“Like I told the kids, we just played the toughest team in the state on paper and held them 30 points under their season average,” Preston said. “That was absolutely a defensive victory. We just could put it together with the offense. Playing a game liek this, we learn that we have to put things together piece by piece to face the caliber of teams we’ll face from now on.”
Preston cited too many turnovers as a big part of the Mountaineers offensive struggles Saturday.
Stephanie Soares led Mount Baker with 14 points, while Danielle Tyler scored 11. McKenzie Yost hit three shots for seven points, but one of them was a huge 3 that gave the Mountaineers a lead in the fourth quarter.
Preston said she also was pleased with the way Stephanie and Jessica Soares “got pushed around inside all night but were able to weather the storm and stay composed.”
Casmere 36, Mount Baker 34
Mount Baker: Haylee Malone 0, Stephanie Soares 14, Danielle Tyler 11, Jessica Soares 2, Breanna Hesyck 0, Kylind Powell 0, McKenzie Yost 7. Totals: 34
Cashmere: Molly Thies 2, Hailey VanLith 8, Jade Jaspers 2, Grace Hammond 0, Grace Erdmann 4, Cami Knishka 8, Sydnee Mongeon 0, Abbie Johnson 12. Totals: 36