KENNEWICK – Forgive Shadle Park girls basketball coach Chad Dezellem if he thought he was watching a nightmare unfold with his eyes wide open Saturday.
Dezellem blinked just in time, though, to watch his Highlanders fend off Hanford 44-38 in the 3A regional tournament at the Toyota Center.
Shadle (19-4) advances to the winner-to-state championship game where it will meet East Valley (15-7) at 9:15 p.m. Friday at Rogers High.
EV continued its late-season surge by knocking off West Valley-Yakima 43-35.
In the boys, the Greater Spokane League was also strong. Shadle overcame some last-minute mistakes to stop Rogers 61-59 and North Central ran away from Sunnyside 71-46.
Shadle (19-4) and NC (14-10) tangle in the winner-to-state title game at 7:30 Friday at Rogers.
Shadle Park 44, Hanford 38: The Highlanders used a 9-2 spurt in the first quarter to take a 14-7 lead into the second. It appeared SP was poised to blow the game open.
But the Falcons fought back, forging a 19-19 tie going into halftime.
Things remained tight in the third quarter with SP emerging with a 27-26 lead going into the fourth.
A 6-0 start to the fourth gave SP a lead it wouldn’t relinquish, but Hanford pulled within 35-34 with 2:18 to go.
The Highlanders finished at the foul line, making 9 of 11 in the final 1:41.
Aleisha Hathaway led SP with 12 points and seven rebounds and Chelsea Chandler had 10 points, five rebounds and four assists.
“I thought prior to (Saturday) that we were starting to take what the defenses give us instead of just staying in our comfort zone and doing our favorite move or our favorite drive no matter if the defense rotated or not,” Dezellem said. “Tonight we took a step back. Offensively, we didn’t look for rhythm and we didn’t look for flow. We didn’t look for our teammates and we didn’t move without the ball.”
East Valley 43, WV-Yakima 35: The Knights watched a 13-point lead sliced to one before they overcame the Rams late.
The Knights opened a 23-14 lead in the first half. Alicia Christianson led EV with 14 points and Amber Swyers had 10 to go with 15 rebounds.
EV’s late-season run includes a 45-40 win over SP on Feb. 9.
“We’ve been playing pretty well lately,” EV coach Rob Collins said. “We’re not scoring a lot of points, but our kids have picked it up on defense and are playing with a lot of heart and desire. They’re starting to believe they can win.”
NC 71, Sunnyside 46: The Indians never gave the Grizzlies a chance.
NC jumped on Sunnyside early and often, and the fast start translated into a 34-19 lead by intermission. The Indians outscored Sunnyside 21-10 in the fourth to put an exclamation mark on the win.
Brandon Olsen and Lucas Evans each scored 16 points to lead NC.
“Both of them were huge for us,” NC coach Jay Webber said. “I thought we were going to be challenged a little more. You never know how a team’s going to respond. Our kids came ready to play.”
Shadle Park 61, Rogers 59: Things seemed to be in hand as the Highlanders had a six-point lead with 1:20 to go.
But a turnover, coupled with two misses on the front end of 1-and-1 opportunities, allowed Rogers to move closer. Another turnover in the waning seconds gave the Pirates the ball with 2.6 seconds to go under their basket. Jake Rogers stole the inbounds pass to end the game.
“We had a 10-point lead in the second quarter and go into halftime down one,” SP coach Tim Gaebe said. “Rogers shot well. They’re a dangerous team.”
Robby Douglas led SP with 22 points and four steals and Brett Boese had 14 points. Therone Tillett led Rogers with 20 points and six rebounds.