YAKIMA— Playing a team at the state tournament you also faced during the regular season can be a blessing or a curse, depending on who you ask.
For White River girls basketball coach Chris Gibson, the answer was undoubtedly a curse given the opponent: top-ranked and defending 2A state champion Mark Morris.
“They’re pretty (darn) good,” Gibson said after the Hornets’ 80-60 loss to the Monarchs in Thursday’s opening round of the Class 2A state tournament. “Teams like that help us get better, and we need to realize that.”
In December, Mark Morris (23-2) topped White River, 75-53, at the ShoWare Shootout, and the Hornets (22-6) saw many similarities more than two months later.
Using multiple presses to disrupt White River’s offensive rhythm, the Monarchs built a 52-32 lead, and their second-half advantage was never fewer than 14 points. And just like the first matchup, some familiar players – Ashley Coons (30 points) and Kourtney Eaton (25 points, eight rebounds, six assists) – did their fair share of damage again, helping Mark Morris shoot 45 percent for the game.
Freshman post Kendall Bird led the Hornets with 21 points, and Maci Goethals had 12.
Gibson’s message to his team after the game was simple: move on and focus on Lake Washington (13-13) in Friday’s consolation game because a win guarantees a trophy game Saturday. White River placed third in 2012.
“This is something that at the state tournament you have to put it away, come back (Friday) at 10:30 a.m., and try to get a trophy,” Gibson said
W.F. West 53, East Valley (Spokane) 37: W.F. West (23-2) used a 12-3 run after its lead was cut to 37-28 to pull away from the Knights (20-4).
The second-ranked Bearcats meet Lynden in Friday’s 3:45 p.m. semifinal with a shot at advancing to Saturday’s 2A state title game for a second straight year. East Valley will face Lynden in Friday’s consolation game.
Julie Spencer, who had a game-high 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots, said regrouping and reminding each other to play as a cohesive unit helped the Bearcats pull away late. They closed the game on a 16-5 run.
“We like to say, ‘Play like a fist and don’t play like five separate players, play all together,’” Spencer said.
Tiana Parker didn’t score but made a big impact in other areas with nine rebounds and six blocks – one shy of tying the tournament single-game record. In all, the Bearcats had 11 blocks, which ties Pullman’s single-game tournament record, set in 2010, against River Ridge.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org