YAKIMA – Finishing a season that was anything but workmanlike with a workmanlike 37-22 win over the Connell Eagles on Saturday, Freeman claimed the third-place trophy in the State 1A girls basketball tournament at the SunDome.
With the win, the Scotties (26-1) ended the second-most successful season in school history with the most wins in school history and a fourth state tournament trophy. The 2005 squad finished second.
Less than 24 hours after a crushing last-second loss in the semifinals, the Scotties employed a stifling second-half defense – allowing just six points – after a sluggish first half to pull away for the win.
“I told them today that we still had to play basketball and that we were going to have to get over it,” Freeman coach Ashley Taylor said. “I thought in the second half we got out of our slump and played.”
The Scotties held the Eagles to 16.7 percent shooting from the field (3 of 18) and didn’t allow a 3-pointer. The defense also forced 21 turnovers. That was more than enough to offset the team’s lowest offensive output of the season.
Taylor’s younger sister MacKenzie, who had struggled in the first three games with an errant shooting touch, came up big with 17 points and six rebounds.
“Our top four scorers have been so consistent all year, but (MacKenzie) really struggled until today,” Ashley Taylor said. “Our four top scorers have joked all season about who would have the next 20-point game.”
Young Taylor was the third different leading scorer in four games at state. Megan McIntyre led the team in the first round and semifinals and Carley Heinen stepped up in the quarterfinals.
McIntyre, selected to the first-team all-tournament team, and Taylor will be back to lead a 2009-2010 Scotties team that loses just three seniors.
Korina Baker had just six points and seven rebounds on the day, but her 3-pointer early in the second quarter seemed to be the impetus for the Scotties to shake off the hangover from the semifinal loss. The shot gave Freeman the lead back at 9-6 and it never trailed or was tied again.
For Taylor, her first year at the helm began with a scramble to take over the program after an abrupt coaching change just as school began in late August and ended with a state trophy and a school record for wins.
“I told the girls this morning we wanted to play well today and have no regrets,” she said. “We might as well go out with a bang.”