Sophie Wood isn’t Olympia’s leading scorer or top rebounder, and her four points a game this season ranks seventh-best on a Bears squad that finished runner-up to Bellarmine Prep in the 4A Narrows League.
But coach Nigel Warren wasn’t sure Wednesday’s outcome, a 45-43 Olympia victory over Tahoma at Chick Rockey Gymnasium in the teams’ 4A West Central/Southwest bi-district girls basketball game, would have been possible had it not been for Wood’s clutch offensive rebound with 8.1 seconds left to give the Bears some cushion after she sank 1 of 2 free throws.
With Mackenzie Cooper on the line (her first of two free throws broke a 43-all tie with 14.1 seconds left), Cooper missed the second, but Wood snagged the ricochet to give Olympia (15-6) an extra possession. A few more seconds ticked off the clock before she was fouled.
“That was a huge offensive rebound,” Warren said.
For Wood, her mindset was simple: if Cooper’s free throw was off the mark, get to the ball.
“I was praying for it on the line and watching for where the ball went,” said Wood, whose last-second free throw was her only point.
But Tahoma wasn’t done. With 3.1 seconds left, the visiting Bears had one final possession, but Rachel Paulsen’s potential game-tying runner in the lane was off the mark, sending Olympia to Friday’s bi-district quarterfinal at 7:45 p.m. at Auburn Mountainview to face Kentlake, a 63-37 winner over Puyallup on Tuesday.
Laura Snodgrass led Olympia with a team-high 12 points and Jenna Randich had 11, helping the Bears get one victory away from clinching a regional berth.
While the closing seconds had a playoff atmosphere to it, the first half was anything but. The teams combined to shoot 11 for 60, with Olympia’s halftime lead at 15-12. Fast forward to the six-minute mark of the fourth quarter when Tahoma (14-8) grabbed its largest lead at 40-33, thanks in part to Brianna Aldridge (game-high 13 points) after finding a bit of rhythm on 3-point shooting (five made 3-pointers in all), before Olympia went on a 9-2 run to take its first lead since the midway point of the third quarter at 41-40.
Warren credited his players’ poise during the stretch, particularly from the free-throw line. Olympia was 3 of 6 in the final 1:47, getting free throws from Snodgrass, Cooper and of course Wood.
“We knocked them down,” Warren said. “We shot free throws tonight, and that was big-time and from some big-time players.”
3A West Central/Southwest bi-district
Sumner 57, Capital 31: It’s been four years since the Cougars last played in a district tournament, and coach Colleen Wells said her team had a “deer-in-the-headlights” look in the first quarter before relaxing and finding an offensive rhythm with 12 second-quarter points.
“We’re not real good shooters, but we play really really hard and incredibly intense defense,” Wells said, “but at the same time, we have a tough time putting the ball in the hole ourselves.
“We’re so close to being better than our record (4-17). I think we’re a year away.”
Olivia Jackowich led the Cougars with nine points. Capital faces Kelso in a loser-out bi-district game at 7:45 p.m. Friday at Washington High School.
2A West Central District
River Ridge 46, Port Angeles 27: Mel Sitani’s 14 points and Kyra Coleman’s 10 helped the Hawks advance to Friday’s district quarterfinal game against Sammamish at 6 p.m. at Foss High School, where River Ridge is one victory away from a 2A regional berth.
Coach Jackie Robinson credited Sitani and Coleman for stepping up their game, something he noted that’s happened the past couple of week.
“It’s been right on time,” he said.
4A West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament
Todd Beamer 77, Timberline 20: Senior Callan Russell had all 11 of the Blazers’ first-half points as Timberline fell in its opening-round bi-district game against the Titans of Federal Way. The Blazers (12-9) now face Federal Way at 6 p.m. Friday at Stadium in a loser-out game.