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Seniors on a mission

Senior point guard Korina Baker leads a break for third-ranked Freeman, which opens State 1A play Wednesday. (J. BART RAYNIAK)
Senior point guard Korina Baker leads a break for third-ranked Freeman, which opens State 1A play Wednesday. (J. BART RAYNIAK)

Once deprived, Freeman girls shoot for gold ball

The way the Freeman girls basketball team sees it, two points kept it from capturing the State 1A championship last year.

The Scotties were undefeated when they faced off with Seattle Christian in the semifinals, but Freeman fell on the short end of a 43-42 decision. Seattle Christian downed Granger 55-53 in the title game and the Scotties took third.

Freeman’s four seniors – Megan McIntyre, Korina Baker, Morghan Poirier and Katie Bauer – are determined to shape a different ending when the state tournament begins Wednesday at the SunDome in Yakima. The Scotties (22-1) meet Zillah at 7:30 p.m.

“It was really disappointing last year because we knew we were capable of winning and were so close to winning,” Poirier said. “It was really hard.”

McIntyre, Baker and Poirier start along with junior Mackenzie Taylor and sophomore Alyssa Main. Bauer, a backup guard, is one of the first two players off the bench. McIntyre, a 5-foot-11 post, averages a team-leading 13 points a game. Baker, a point guard, averages 12 and Poirier, a guard, averages six.

The seniors have used last year’s heartbreak as motivation this season.

“As a whole their leadership and experience have been very valuable,” coach Ashlee Taylor said. “They’ve been really good mentors to the younger girls.”

Taylor said the goal has been simple this season.

“We want to play for the biggest trophy,” she said. “I’ve been reminding the girls of that since Day 1.”

Bauer agreed.

“We don’t want third again,” Bauer said. “Our goal is the gold ball.”

For that to happen, the Scotties must rely on their strength. From coach to players, they know it won’t come with offense.

“We don’t have high-percentage shooters,” Poirier said. “On a good night we might shoot 30 percent.”

That means the defense doesn’t rest.

“Our defense makes us go,” McIntyre said.

Said Baker: “Our defense this year is better than last year. We’ve been working on it a lot harder this year.”

The seniors want to go out on top. Baker and Poirier are best friends and have been playing basketball together since first grade. All four have been playing together since seventh grade.

“We’ve grown up together and we know this is our last chance to win a state championship,” Poirier said. “After this we won’t play with each other again so that really motivates us.”

As the point guard, Baker knows her role.

“Having her ability at the point has made a huge difference for us,” Taylor said. “She gets us going. She understands that getting everyone set up and in the right places is important. She’s executed very well in big games.”

McIntyre provides the key points inside and Poirier uses her speed to create opportunities out of defense.

“Megan has stepped up and been our most consistent scorer,” Taylor said. “Morghan sneaks up on you; she’s very quick. Without her six to eight points a game we wouldn’t win.”

Taylor said Bauer’s contributions off the bench are more than just physical.

“She’s very smart (4.0 grade-point average),” Taylor said. “She’s probably the most coachable kid I’ve had. She’s our grunt worker in a sense. She’s very valuable to the team.”

Taylor says a state title is within her team’s grasp.

“I believe in my girls. They’re the best,” she said. “If we play our game and play defense, we should be able to go as far as we want to go.”