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West Valley nabs third place

Sun., March 15, 2009

YAKIMA – The disappointment of 2008 thoroughly scrubbed away, an ecstatic West Valley Eagles team stood at the center of the SunDome court Saturday holding up the third-place trophy after an emphatic 63-49 win over Prosser in the State 2A girls basketball tournament.

All week coach Lorin Carlon spoke of the team’s goal to stay and play all four days. That was fueled by the memory of getting bounced last year one game short of a trophy.

West Valley (21-6) earned its fourth state trophy with its second-best finish – behind only the 1999 state championship team.

It truly was a team effort in dismantling the once top-ranked Mustangs, leading by as much as 28 points.

Nikki Lawless and Hannah Love carried the load for West Valley in the first half as they established control.

Lawless got it going from the outside, scoring nine points on a trio of 3-pointers, while Love tallied eight points and five rebounds working inside. Eagles stalwart Shanique Nilles struggled in the first half against Prosser defender Tamara Jones, who held the West Valley post player to just three free throws.

“Nikki got us off to a great start,” Carlon said. “We’ve known she can make those shots. We’ve had trouble getting her to take them.”

Nilles broke through for six quick points in the third period as the Eagles extended their lead to 51-28.

Prosser coach Mark Little tried everything in his arsenal to slow the onslaught – even a 5-for-5 substitution just before the end of the third period – but nothing worked.

Nilles’ big second half (she was 6 of 10 from the floor) gave her 19 points (to go with nine rebounds) to lead West Valley, while Love scored 16 and Lawless totaled 12, all on 3-pointers.

Nilles was named second-team all-tournament.

Othello 62, Pullman 55: Othello’s 1-2 punch of Allison Walker and Christine Kirkwood was too much for Pullman’s young squad and the Greyhounds dropped the game for fifth and eighth places.

The Greyhounds (22-5) earned their seventh trophy in 10 appearances at the state tournament.

The game was a 180-degree turnaround from the 2008 tournament game for fifth and eighth places when Pullman beat Othello 39-35.

“Oh yeah, they remember,” Pullman coach Phil Morgan said with a laugh when asked if the previous contest was on everyone’s mind. “Walker and Kirkwood were a big part of that.”

And that pair was a huge part of this outcome. They each had 22 points with Walker punishing the Greyhounds inside and Kirkwood hitting four big 3-pointers when Pullman tried to pack its zone defense in to help deal with Walker.

“When she (Kirkwood) hits those long ones on you, that really hurts,” Morgan said.

Pullman’s Shelby Cheslek, who battled Walker inside all morning, pulled down 10 rebounds and finished with a tournament-record 60 rebounds.

She was presented with a commemorative ball as part of the postgame trophy presentation and was named to the all-tournament second team.

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