Defensive Eagles take third
Pullman starts well, settles for seventh
YAKIMA – Defending like there was no tomorrow, the West Valley Eagles put an emphatic stamp on their one-loss season with a 44-34 victory Saturday over Burlington-Edison in the game for third and sixth places at the girls State 2A basketball championship in the SunDome.
The Eagles dashed to an 18-2 second-quarter lead by “playing zone as hard as we’ve ever played it,” according to coach Lorin Carlon. Burlington methodically chipped away at the lead but never got closer than nine points.
West Valley finished the season with a 25-1 record. The Eagles look like an early favorite in 2011 as they lose just one senior from the 2010 club.
Hannah Love, who was frustrated to the point of tears by her struggles on Thursday and Friday, atoned in a big way early, popping in nine first-half points and handing out three assists. Shanique Nilles, the other half of the Eagles “Love-Shaq” tandem in the paint, had six points. Nilles finished with 17 and Love added 12.
The Tigers’ high-scoring Brenna Anderson was the focus of a lot of West Valley’s defensive attention. The Eagles used Love, Nilles and Mallorie Schoesler in combination to double-team her and it worked as they held the athletic 6-foot post to two points in the first half.
Ellensburg 62, Pullman 58: The Bulldogs came back from a 17-point first-half deficit thanks to timely 3-point shooting and tenacious on-ball defense and captured the fourth-place trophy.
Pullman (18-8) came home with seventh place, its eighth state trophy in 11 appearances.
Everything that went right for Pullman in the game’s first 16 minutes seemed to go wrong in the second half.
“It was a tale of two halves for us,” Pullman coach Phil Morgan said. “Their long-range shooting really hurt. It wasn’t like we were giving them anything easy. They were hitting them.”
Shelby Cheslek had 12 points in the first half – the only player from either team to score in double figures – as the Greyhounds zipped out to a 25-8 lead with 6:10 remaining when Danielle Hodge hit two free throws. But Ellensburg’s guards hit four 3-pointers the rest of the way, cutting the deficit to seven at the break.
Ellensburg got the lead for the first time since the first 3 minutes of the game on a 3-pointer by Deaira Gordon with 2 seconds remaining in the third period. The Bulldogs built the lead to 57-48. Pullman whittled it down to two again late but missed on two chances to tie the game.
Cheslek had her fourth consecutive strong performance. The 6-foot-5 junior led the team in scoring for the fourth straight day, tossing in 26 points and grabbed eight rebounds.