Nobody on the Black Hills roster has experienced the Yakima Valley SunDome in a true state tournament setting.
For two years, the Wolves have been close, reaching the Class 2A regional round, only to fall one game short of the state quarterfinals with a 53-43 loss to Lynden at Mount Vernon High School on Saturday.
As Black Hills senior Lexi Tarrow put it: “We had it in our grasp. … It was hard watching it slowly slip away. I wish we had that next thing — something we could hold on to that could help bring us out of it.”
It’s true. Despite shooting 28 percent from the floor and scoring just 18 points in the second half, Black Hills led by as many as five points with 3:26 to go in the third quarter. A Lauren Furu putback to begin the fourth quarter made it a 3-point game at 35-32.
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The Lions’ cornerstone defense all game was slowing down the Wolves’ interior play of Shayla Smothers and Meeri Gummerus, including double- and triple-teaming Smothers whenever possible, which forced the Wolves into shooting more from the perimeter. Smothers (12 points, eight rebounds, three blocks) had just one field goal in the second half, which gave Black Hills a 37-35 lead with 6:35 to play. But that’s when the dry spell hit as the Wolves’ only other field goal was Emma Duff’s last-second heave on a 3-pointer just before the final horn sounded, in addition to three free throws by Gummerus and Bailey Rollman combined.
“We tend to wilt when we can’t get the ball in the hole,” Wolves coach Tanya Greenfield said.
With Gummerus’ fourth foul coming at the 6:56 mark of the third quarter, that left the Wolves without one of their two interior players on defense plus their top defender on the perimeter, Greenfield added.
The result? More paint production from Lynden, led by Elisa Kooiman, who finished with a game-high 18 points. She helped the Lions go on a 12-1 run to take a double-digit lead at 48-38 with 90 seconds to play.