Mount Tahoma girls basketball coach Calvin McHenry laid out for his team the attributes that define good teams during the postseason.
That’s why it pained him a bit more when his Thunderbirds couldn’t make those words translate on the court in their Class 3A West Central District tournament game against the Kennedy Catholic Lancers on Tuesday night at Franklin Pierce High School.
Mount Tahoma struggled on the defensive end and failed to convert from the free throw line late in the game in a 66-60 season-ending loss to Kennedy.
The T-Birds shot a dismal 6-for-17 from the line in the fourth quarter.
“I talked about what Phil Jackson and Mike Krzyzewski both say … the number one thing that determines who wins playoff games is who makes the free throws and who doesn’t,” McHenry said. “And we didn’t, so we lost.”
Locked in a back-and-forth battle with the Lancers throughout the fourth quarter, the T-Birds cut the Lancers lead to 55-53 with 3 minutes, 21 seconds remaining on a basket by Rejie Wright down low. Mount Tahoma wouldn’t get any closer as Kennedy’s lead bounced between two and four points in the final three minutes and the T-Birds failed to capitalize on their opportunities.
“My best kids — the kids I wanted on (the line) — were missing,” McHenry said. “If we had converted those free throws, it would have been a different game at the end.”
Mount Tahoma (9-12) also failed to contain Celestina Ramirez, Kennedy Catholic’s 5-foot-2 point guard.
The senior torched the defense for a game-high 26 points — 15 coming in the second half.
“We had a simple gameplan: Guard the 3-point shooters, make them beat us in the drive,” McHenry said. “...They started hitting the 3s. And when we didn’t get up (on them), they went by us.”
Nikki Miller scored 16 and Kelsey Abrejera added 14 for the Lancers (14-9), who will take on Enumclaw, the bracket’s No. 1 seed, at 8 p.m. Friday at Clover Park High School.
Ashley Keys and Tanisha Lopez each scored 16 for Mount Tahoma, while Wright added 15.
At Mount Rainier 61, Camas 38: Brittany McPhee had a game-high 33 points and 18 rebounds, and the Rams forced the visiting Papermakers into early turnovers in cruising to a district-opening victory.
At Yelm 47, Tahoma 25: Tessa Matthews led all scorers with 12 points, but it was the Tornados’ defense in the second half that carried the Narrows 4A champion to the next round.
Yelm (18-3) allowed the Bears to score one field goal in the second half.
The Tornados pulled down 49 rebounds — led by Anushka Maldonado’s 17 to go along with six points.
At Puyallup 50, Central Kitsap 37: The Vikings’ fast start offset their ball-handling miscues, and Braylie Jeffers led Puyallup (19-3) with 14 points in leading the SPSL South runner-up to a home win.
Union 52, Kentridge 44: Jessica Chatman scored 17 points, and Kendra Preuninger added 14 as the Greater St. Helens 4A champion built an 11-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and won in Camas.
The Chargers had cut it to 46-43, but Chatman made two free throws with 1:40 remaining in the game.
Kentwood 54, at Skyview 53: Jenny Johnson poured in a game-high 18 points, and the Conquerors (16-6) upended the reigning Class 4A state champion Storm in Vancouver.
Bonney Lake 33, Timberline 31: After the Blazers took a 28-27 lead with just over two minutes to go, the Panthers (13-9) went on a 5-0 run, and never trailed again at Franklin Pierce High School.
Timberline had two chances to tie in the final 10 seconds, but missed a layup and a jumper from the free-throw line.
Auburn Mountainview 53, Mountain View 48: In his final season as coach of Auburn Mountainview, Chris Carr will at least see the weekend play out as the Lions captured a loser-out game at Clover Park High School.
Molly Cichosz led Auburn Mountainview (12-11) with 17 points.
Kelso 62, Lincoln 57: Tamia Braggs scored 23 points, but the Abes could not hold the fourth-quarter lead and were eliminated from the West Central/Southwest District playoffs at Clover Park High School.