The Cascade Christian Cougars accomplished their mission at the Class 1A state tournament, placing sixth at the Yakima SunDome.
The Cougars went 1-2 last weekend, including a quarterfinal loss to Chelan on Thursday and a victory against Connell in a Friday elimination contest. Cascade Christian dropped a 60-43 contest to the Lynden Christian Lyncs in the trophy round on Saturday. Lynden Christian finished fourth.
“You would rather end the season with a win, but there is no reason to be disappointed,” Cougars head coach Bryan Peterson said. “We placed at the state tournament, which was our goal. I appreciate what our team has done with the example they have set. They battled like warriors.”
Senior Kaycee Creech finished with a team-high 13 points and junior guard Katie Rozumny added 12. Creech smiled after she left the locker room following her final high school game against Lynden Christian on Saturday.
“Our goal was to medal and do better than last year,” she said. “We did it, so I’m happy.”
The Cougars reached the state level last year but went 0-2.
Post Chloe Read, one of three seniors on the roster, said the future is bright for the program.
“They are going to have a really good team that is going to work hard,” Read said. “A lot of people didn’t think we would make it this far this year, and it is going to be the same thing next year. The team is going to be good, and other teams aren’t going to know what hit them.”
Going into the fourth quarter of their loser-out game Friday, the Cougars trailed the Connell Eagles 37-17. With about six minutes left in regulation, there was a stoppage in play due to blood on the court, and Cascade Christian trailed by 17 points.
That’s when Peterson gave his team a quick speech about how to end the season right.
“I told the girls, ‘Lets make this respectable,’ ” he said.
The Cougars did more than that. They outscored Connell 22-3 down the stretch and registered a 42-40 victory to keep their season alive.
Guard Olivia Tuttle nailed a three-pointer with six seconds left in regulation to give her team its first lead of the game. It wound up being the game-winner.
“It was nothing but net,” Peterson said. “It was an incredible performance by our team in the fourth quarter. We scored 17 points in the first three quarters, and 25 in the fourth. We are still in kind of in shock and can’t believe what happened.
“We demonstrated good character down the stretch,” he added. “We had three girls with four fouls (Creech, Rozumny, Savannah Hunter), but they hung in there and stayed in the game.”
Read said she reminded her team they still had a chance, even when they trailed by double digits in the fourth quarter.
“We never believed we were going to lose and always knew we were going to win,” she said. “We all had each other’s back, and our camaraderie was just excellent.”
Creech said it was the most improbable victory she has ever been a part of.
“I’m honestly still in shock,” she said. “I can’t believe it happened. It was a miracle, and we just did it.”
Tuttle finished with 11 points, and Creech added a team-high 17 in the win.
The Chelan Goats bolted out to a 15-5 lead and cruised to a 51-24 victory in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
“There was some pain there,” Peterson said. “It hurts because you come all the way here, and you don’t perform. Our team is full of competitors and is very competitive. To come out and not perform on the biggest stage in our first game is a disappointment.”
The Cougars shot a paltry 18 percent from the field. Creech led the Cougars with nine points.
“We didn’t generate enough offense and didn’t rebound the way we normally do,” Peterson said.
The coach added Chelan is one of the premier teams in Washington.
“I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Chelan won the it all (state championship),” he said. “Of our two losses this year, one is to Chelan and the other is to Lynden Christian, and they are the top two or three teams in the state, along with Brewster.”
Brewster beat Castle Rock 72-41 to win the state championship on Saturday afternoon, and Chelan finished third after a 45-32 win against King’s.
Sports Editor Shaun Scott can be reached at 253-552-7002 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_shaun.