Between the nonleague matchups and the postseason district and state championship games, W.F. West and Mark Morris have seen more of each other in recent seasons than teams in their respective leagues.
That’s what happens when you face off eight times in a three-year span, more than the traditional twice-a-season meetings if they were conference foes.
For three seasons, Class 2A’s road to the state title in girls basketball went through these Southwest District IV teams separated by 41 miles, which feature vastly different styles but have grown accustomed to each others’ strengths and flairs.
For the Monarchs, it was their hot shooting that proved no match. And in Saturday’s state title game that was the granddaddy of all rubber matches, the result was a 69-53 win over the Bearcats that gave the top-ranked Monarchs (25-2) from Longview their second state title in three seasons — both over the Bearcats of Chehalis.
When senior Karley Eaton, who along with twin sister Kourtney will play at UC Davis next season, turned and shrugged her shoulders after hitting her sixth 3-pointer of the night, it gave Mark Morris a 64-43 lead at the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter. It was the team’s 13th 3-pointer of the game.
She finished with a game-high 22 points, including 6 for 10 on 3s. It was that kind of night … and that kind of the tournament for the Monarchs.
Like the 67-40 2A District 4 title win in Lacey on Feb. 20, they did it with outside shooting. The 13 3-pointers accounted for 39 of Mark Morris’ 63 points. Combined with 15 made 3s in Thursday’s quarterfinal win over White River and 11 in Friday’s semifinal victory against Ellensburg, the 39 3-pointers in three games broke the tournament record of 32 set in 2001 by Ephrata.
Senior Ashley Coons (13 points) insists off-shooting nights do exist — “We have before. We’ve had two or three games when we have been off, but it still looks like a good game,” she said — but this wasn’t one of those nights. At one stretch, they had a 50 percent clip (10 for 20) from 3-point range and a 20-point lead minutes into the third quarter.
“We all love to shoot,” she said, “and we do it in our free time.”
Mark Morris went 6-2 in eight games over three seasons against W.F. West; the Monarchs won all three meetings in 2013, including a 56-44 win in that season’s title game. W.F. West won two out of three games last season and defeated the Monarchs, 48-37, for the program’s first state crown in girls basketball.
And while it was a 13-point game at 36-23 going into halftime on Saturday at the Yakima Valley SunDome for state title Round 3, what else but a 3-pointer jumpstarted the third-quarter scoring for Mark Morris — courtesy of Kourtney Eaton, who was named the tournament Most Valuable Player for the second time in three seasons.
Bucket after bucket, the lead grew to the 20-point mark three minutes after halftime. One series against a much larger Bearcats (22-4) team that features two Division I-bound forwards in 6-foot-2 Julie Spencer, last year’s tournament MVP and 6-3 Tiana Parker (team-high 17 points), the smaller Mark Morris squad had three consecutive offensive rebounds (14 in all) by Kourtney Eaton, which kept the possession alive and led to an eventual basket by Coons to make the lead 54-30 with 3:29 to play in the third. The Bearcats’ deficit got no closer than 16 the rest of the way.
Still, the three-year span was the most successful run for the Bearcats in program history: three consecutive title game appearances, including the state crown in 2014. Spencer, who finished with 13 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, called it a blessing to play in three title games.
“And taking one of them home, I feel completely satisfied,” said JSpencer, who will play at the University of Portland. “There’s no regret. We left it on the court tonight.
“It doesn’t matter if you win one state championship or five; once a state champ, always a state champ.”
Kendall Bird scored a game-high 22 points and Maci Goethals had 17, including going 5 of 7 from 3-point range to lead White River to the come-from-behind win after trailing by as many as 14 in the first half.
Hornets coach Chris Gibson spoke of his seniors — Kristin Sturdivan, Amanda Lance and Ashlea Mills — who followed in the footsteps of other graduated seniors to keep a strong state run going.
“It’s been a great run,” Gibson said. “They’ve left plenty behind for us to move onto to next year, and the next year after that.
“It takes a few special kids in each class to keep this run going.”
Sturdivan’s 3-pointer gave White River the lead for good at 45-43 with 4:52 to play in the game, starting a 6-0 run to stretch the lead to 51-43.