Hayley Hendricksen took the net and hung it around Lewis and Clark girls basketball coach Jim Redmon’s neck.
Perhaps with 1 minute left in the third quarter, though, Redmon thought that same net was tightening around his team’s chances of capturing the District 8 4A championship Friday.
The Lewis and Clark Tigers trailed 42-29 and nothing seemed to be going their way.
Confidence, though, is a fickle thing. The Tigers found it in the final period, rallying for a 56-51 victory over the Gonzaga Prep Bullpups at University.
The Tigers (16-6) advance to the first round of the state tournament Friday and will face Columbia Basin Big Nine district champ and No. 1-ranked Chiawana (21-2) at Richland High School.
The district’s No. 1-seeded Bullpups (18-4) turn around and face No. 4 Mead (14-8) this afternoon at 2:30 at U-Hi in an elimination game. The winner will play host to the CBBN runner-up on Tuesday to decide a state berth.
Lewis and Clark 56, Gonzaga Prep 51: The Tigers’ leading scorer sat on the bench the final 3 minutes, 26 seconds of the third quarter with four fouls.
Then with 1 minute to go in the period, G-Prep’s Hannah Murray finished a 10-0 run that put her team ahead 42-29.
Things were looking bleak for the Tigers.
If ever there was an example of a team being in pressure-packed postseason situations and then finding a way to persevere in the end, it was LC.
Devyn Galland, who scored a game-high 23 points despite foul trouble, played the entire fourth quarter.
She started the period by hitting a 3-pointer, one of five she made in the game.
“I thought the change came when Devyn hit that 3-pointer,” Redmon said. “I thought then the whole team started to believe. Then the next thing you know we’re only down by six. Then you could just see the momentum change at that point.”
Redmon admitted much of the game his team struggled.
“We looked horrible at times,” he said. “It was chaotic. We called timeout and said ‘guys you’re still in this.’ It turned out that they believed in themselves. We took it a little piece at a time.”
Two free throws by Tia Presley gave the Bullpups a 48-39 lead with 3:59 to go.
But LC scored nine straight points, capped when freshman Emma Keenan hit a 19-foot jumper with a toe on the 3-point line to tie it at 48-all with 1:53 remaining.
G-Prep’s final lead came when Lindsey Stockton hit a driving layup off a nice feed from Presley at the 1:35 mark.
Hendricksen got a big offensive rebound, got the put back and was fouled. She made the free throw to put Lewis and Clark ahead at 51-50 with 68 seconds to go.
“I think offensively we were rushing shots,” G-Prep coach Mike Arte said. “We got some good looks at the basket. And defensively we had trouble guarding Hendricksen in the last quarter. We didn’t secure rebounds – about four or five of them that looked like we had them and didn’t secure them.”
Arte admitted it appeared LC played like it had been in games like the district final before.
“They have that experience; they’ve been in these big games,” Arte said. “They understand how to feed off each other. We kind of get out and act nutty a little bit because we’re not used to it.”
Galland said a key was the support the bench gave.
“All of our bench players came in and made plays,” Galland said. “We never gave up.”
Hendricksen had 12 points to go with 15 rebounds.
Presley led G-Prep with 15 points, six rebounds and two steals.
Mead 55, Ferris 49: The Panthers outscored the Saxons 21-13 in the fourth quarter in the elimination game.
The Panthers received several key contributions. Jade Redmon had a game-high 16 points and six assists, Taylor Ingebritsen had 15 points and Mackenzie McPhee added 10 points, 10 rebounds, six blocked shots and four assists.
Katara Belton-Sharp led Ferris (7-15) with 14 points.