Another state basketball trip, more final-four disappointment for the Wilson High School girls.
Unlike last season when the Rams suffered through a bitter last-second disappointment, this time they just endured their own misery – an extended second-quarter stretch of sloppy offense and loose defense.
It all added up to Bishop Blanchet’s 65-55 victory over the hometown and eighth-ranked Rams in the Class 3A semifinals Friday night at the Tacoma Dome.
And for a second consecutive season, it will be an all-Metro League final. The No. 5 Braves (24-4) will meet top-ranked and defending state champion Cleveland on Saturday night at 9.
Blanchet lost earlier regular-season meetings to the Eagles – 75-37 and 65-50.
“We are playing pretty well,” Blanchet coach Bryan Willison said. “The kids are growing up.”
There was a time more than a decade ago, few girls basketball programs in the state of Washington could boast the same amount of success Blanchet was having.
The Braves won back-to-back 3A titles in 1995 and 1996, and placed second in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
But after 2004, they hit a dry patch – that is, until this season when they upended powerhouse Prairie in the regional tournament with a sophomore and two ninth graders in the starting lineup to reach the final eight.
Wilson (20-6) simply had no answer for forward Jadyn Bush, one of those talented ninth graders. She tallied 12 of her game-high 22 points in the first half – eight coming in the opening quarter.
And the Braves opened the second quarter scoring on eight of their first nine possessions. Sophomore Lily DePietro hit a pair of 3-pointers, and they buried Wilson beneath a 12-2 run to build a 32-18 advantage.
The Rams closed the final 4 1/2 minutes of the first half with six turnovers, just never giving themselves a chance to match Blanchet’s suddenly easy scoring spurt.
Ninth grader Taylor Chambers sank the final 3-pointer of the half for the Braves with 1:41 to go, and Blanchet had a 39-22 lead. The Braves shot 60 percent in the first half (15 of 25).
“They were on fire. We didn’t do a good job of locking down their shooters,” Wilson coach Michelle Birge said. “We knew about them, we just couldn’t get our feet to respond to our brains.”
Last season, Wilson lost a controversial 36-33 semifinal game against Seattle Prep when the Rams drilled what they thought was a game-tying 3-pointer, only to have it ruled a long two-point shot.