Coach Jackie Robinson still claims he is the biggest, most commanding 6-foot-4 basketball player his River Ridge High School girls will ever see on any court.
Sammamish High School’s Promise Taylor might be running a close second.
Taylor converted the game-clinching three-point play with 10.5 seconds to go, and the Totems rallied for a 43-39 victory over the Hawks in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A SeaKing/West Central bi-district tournament at Foss High School.
“(Taylor) is tough,” Robinson said. “She is nice around the paint.”
With the victory, the Totems clinched a spot in the regional round of the state tournament. Their last state berth came in 1994-95.
It was a game in which neither squad could gain control. The biggest lead was five points, held by River Ridge late in the first quarter.
The Hawks’ final lead was 36-35 on Savannah McGill’s bucket at the 3:38 mark of the fourth quarter. The senior post player tallied 22 of the team’s 39 points — including all 15 in the first half.
With McGill and Taylor (15 points) providing most of the offense, the difference was the Totems’ ability to sink 3-pointers at crucial times — including Montana Hagstrom’s straightaway shot 21 seconds later that gave Sammamish the lead for good.
“Our girls are prepared for that, and ready for that,” Totems coach Michael Schick said. “They play in the KingCo (3A-2A) against the toughest teams. They have seen everything, and are ready for everything.”
Yet, River Ridge made it interesting down the stretch.
Peggy Johnston stole the ball with 90 seconds to go, which led to a Totems foul. The Hawks sank two free throws to trim Sammamish’s lead to 40-39 with 1:23 to go.
River Ridge’s Kyla Coleman then picked off an inside pass, giving the Hawks a chance to take the lead.
With the shot clock running down, McGill made a move to her left and was stripped of the ball by Morgan Mincy with 34 seconds remaining.
Expecting to see River Ridge foul, Sammamish (11-10) kept rotating the basketball around and got it to Taylor inside.
And she had space, turning over Coleman to sink a 6-footer in the lane. She was also fouled.
“I usually pass it out to our 3-point shooters,” Taylor said. “This time I didn’t.”
It was a miserable night for Hawks leading scorer junior guard MaKenna Schultz. She scored just six points on 1 of 12 shooting, and committed seven turnovers.
River Ridge (13-9), which had won 10 of its past 11 games before the loss, has to win a pair of loser-out games — starting Monday night against Evergreen of Seattle at Wilson High.
“We can do it,” Schultz said. “We’ve got this.”