TACOMA – Lewis and Clark’s girls basketball team had no one average double figures in scoring or rebounding during its four-day stay at the State 4A tournament.
What they had following Saturday night’s 42-37 victory over Moses Lake in the Tacoma Dome was an unblemished season to become the first team in tournament history to win three straight championships.
But it was a harrowing effort in turning back the Chiefs, who in their first State 4A tournament dispatched once-beaten Jackson, Kentwood and finally Pasco, in an All-Columbia Basin League semifinal, to reach the title game.
All-tournament selection Carly Noyes averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds per game, her sister Ann and freshman point guard Jordan Loera averaged in double figures for the Chiefs.
“There’s nothing to be ashamed of finishing second in our first year here,” Moses Lake coach Matt Strophy said. “I thought we played a gutsy game, but hats off to LC. They’re just that good.”
The Tigers (29-0, with 33 straight wins over two seasons) led just 40-37 with 1 minute, 28 seconds remaining and down the stretch both teams battled for advantage with no results. In the final 40 seconds, first Kelsey Baker, then Sarah Kliewer pulled down offensive rebounds to keep the clock running and Kiki January made two free throws with 12 seconds left to clinch the triumph.
“We don’t pull (the rebounds) down, they still have a chance,” Tigers coach Jim Redmon said. “They are a good team that knows where their strengths are and used them.”
LC’s strength is defense, as Strophy pointed out, led by all-tourney Brittany Kennedy. LC forced 23 turnovers to offset the 16-point, 14-rebound effort of Carly Noyes.
The Tigers jumped to a 9-1 lead in the first quarter, with Kennedy scoring twice. Over the next 3 minutes, the Chiefs worked their way back into the game before LC shot back ahead by seven.
But a familiar pattern ensued – first a basket by Loera, followed by Kelly Sutherland, then Noyes to cut the lead to one point with 1:25 left in the half.
Kennedy scored with 57 seconds remaining and had a chance to add on, but hurried her shot in the final 8 seconds. Loera fired a shot near midcourt with time expiring and it swished through for a 19-all halftime tie.
After Sutherland put the Chiefs ahead to start the third quarter, LC went on an eight-point run.
Baker and Jeneva Anderson each had three-point plays.
Moses Lake pared the lead to two points, Emily Travis hit a 3-pointer following a turnover to move it back to 34-27, but Noyes scored before quarter’s end.
The Tigers kept the Chiefs at bay from the free-throw line, despite their trouble penetrating and scoring against the taller team. Until Anderson converted a basket and free throw with an athletic move in the paint for a 40-35 lead, LC went more than 5 minutes without a basket.
Then it became nervous time, but the champs prevailed.
Anderson scored nine of her 13 points in the second half, while Baker and Kliewer did their part on the history-making night for the Tigers.
“I think it’s important to say that game by game they worked hard every day,” Redmon said. “We’ve had great talent over the years that has made this run possible.”
Kennedy has been a part of it all, contributing mightily for a third-place team and the three state champions.
“Every year we get a present with this win for the seniors to go off with,” she said. “This year it’s special for us, not only because we won but because we were undefeated. Three titles is something I’ll never forget.”