TACOMA – Forgive Lewis and Clark girls basketball coach Jim Redmon for having a couple of flashbacks to last year.
Even junior guard Nakia Arquette thought about the Tigers’ inability to finish some games a year ago.
When Lewis and Clark needed it the most, though, Arquette and senior forward Hayley Hendricksen had a timely double team, forcing a steal with 11 seconds left, and Hendricksen was subsequently fouled.
The Saint Mary’s College-bound Hendricksen made both free throws, sealing the Tigers’ 47-43 victory over the Woodinville Falcons in the State 4A tournament semifinals Friday night at the Tacoma Dome.
Lewis and Clark (19-6), ranked 10th in the final AP regular-season 4A poll, meets second-ranked Federal Way (26-2) for the state championship tonight at 5.
The Tigers will be seeking their fourth state title in the last six years.
Lewis and Clark led 43-34 with 4:16 remaining and seemingly had things in control. But a stretch in which the Tigers made just 2 of 6 free throws coupled with four turnovers allowed the Falcons (21-6) to make it a dramatic finish.
Rita Date hit a 3-pointer with 57 seconds remaining to pull the Falcons within 45-43.
Then the Tigers committed their fourth turnover with 31 seconds to go.
Forced to hunker down, the Tigers made their biggest defensive stand at the most critical time – thanks to Hendricksen and Arquette.
Hendricksen had a simple thought running through her head as she stepped to the foul line.
“The thing that kept going through my mind is I’ve shot a thousand of these in practice and I need to make them now and my team needs them,” she said.
Federal Way advanced by topping Chiawana 48-45 – the team Lewis and Clark slipped past last week in a state opener.
“It’s going to be a great game,” Hendricksen said. “ It’s going to very physical.”
Hendricksen wasn’t too concerned when Lewis and Clark’s lead evaporated.
“We got ourselves into a slump and they were playing pretty hard and got themselves back into it,” Hendricksen said. “But in the end we knew what we needed to do and we ended up executing when it counted.”
Arquette led Lewis and Clark with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Devyn Galland had 14 points and three steals. Hendricksen had nine points and 12 rebounds.
“We felt that this group of juniors, when they got into the program, we’re going to get here,” Redmon said. “I don’t know if we thought it was going to be this year or when they were seniors. They’re just really driven.”
Arquette thought the game didn’t need the added drama.
“We didn’t need to make it that close at the end,” Arquette said. “It definitely reminded us of last year. All of the returners – me Devyn and Hayley – were like ‘We’re not going to do this again, this is not going to be a repeat of last year. We’re going to show how much we’ve improved.’ The four turnovers were not necessary, but it kind of woke us up.”