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Eagles Flying High After State Tourney

There was a festive air at Lakeside High School following third-place finishes in the State A basketball tournaments by both the school’s boys and girls teams.

The atmosphere was no less festive in the home of George and Angie Petticrew, whose children were instrumental in the success of both teams.

George Petticrew Jr. was named to the State A all-tournament boys team after averaging just under 18 points per game.

His sister Nikki, a freshman, came off the bench to lead the girls team in rebounding. “I think it’s awesome we both got to go,” said George, a junior at Lakeside. “It’s not often (a brother and sister) get to go and play for a trophy.”

Particularly not at the same time and on teams that both reach the tournament semifinals.

George Petticrew quarterbacked Lakeside into the State A football playoffs last fall after pitching the Eagles into baseball regionals as a sophomore.

After averaging 11.2 points per game during the regular season, he lifted his game during the Eagles boys’ first state tournament appearance, including one 25-point outing.

Nikki Petticrew was an all-conference player on Lakeside’s playoff volleyball team as well as a cog in the Eagles’ highest-ever basketball finish.

“Those kids aren’t just good athletes but very good people,” said Lakeside girls basketball coach Lisa Schultz. “They’re not conceited, don’t have big heads and don’t know how good they are.”

It was amazing enough that both teams went to Tacoma, let alone finished as high as they did. Tournament expectations for the two teams were very different.

“Us being league and district champs, there was a lot of pressure on the girls,” said Schultz, whose team this year made its third straight appearance. “With the boys, they were kind of the underdogs and given no credit. They really shocked a lot of people over there.”

In two years as boys coach, Mulligan took a program that hadn’t had much previous success into the league playoffs last year and then improved to second place in league this season.

After losing its first district playoff game, the Eagles bounced back to earn the Northeast A League’s second state berth. Once in Tacoma, they made the most of their opportunity, beating Adna 61-53 and Ilwaco 60-51.

Mulligan said that several Eagles played despite illness during a 55-43 semifinal loss to Zillah, but felt better by Saturday’s 65-63 win over Omak. Senior Josh Miller scored 22 points in his final game.

“I don’t know if it’s sunk in,” said Mulligan of Lakeside’s accomplishment. “I had a lot of confidence in the boys. I think every coach does.”

The boys placed third with seven juniors on the roster, including Petticrew and Billy Bender, only recently returned after missing a month with a broken wrist.

“We needed (Bender’s) athleticism and scoring punch,” said Mulligan. “And he was definitely an inspirational boost. He brings a lot of enthusiasm to the team.”

The unexpected performance by the boys in their first try complemented a girls team that was expected to succeed.

“For some of the kids it was an amazing dream,” said Mulligan. “Our goal was to make a good showing in the first two rounds and obviously we did that.”

Lakeside’s girls played in the State A tournament in 1994 and finished seventh last year. This year they arrived in Tacoma with only one loss.

“We knew we really could be in the championship game if we had the right draw, bracket and played well,” said Schultz.

Lakeside got all that and was a three-point basket away from a title appearance. The 24-2 Eagles finished five points away from a perfect season.

They beat La Center 46-31 and rallied from nine points behind to nip Seattle Christian 37-36 after an exhortation from Petticrew.

“I don’t think young kids understand pressure,” said Schultz.

The hole they dug during a 53-50 loss to Cascade in the semifinal was bigger.

Point guard Carrie Waddell was hobbled by an ankle sprained the night before and Bernadette Rowse went out midway through the second quarter, also with a sprained ankle. Lakeside trailed by 15 points at half and its rally came up short.

Schultz said they played their best game of the year in beating Castle Rock 64-49 to finish third.

Sisters Lora and Brianne Jolley were the offensive catalysts for the team. Senior Lora averaged just under 15 points per game and sophomore Brianne scored just under 19 per contest.

Like the boys, Lakeside’s girls team is young. After identical third-place finishes, the goals for next year are even greater.

“The kids told me a glass trophy is neat but they want the (championship) ball,” said Schultz.

After having one dream come true, Mulligan wouldn’t rule that as being outside the boys’ realm of possibility.

, DataTimes