TACOMA – Freddie Rehkow talked about it all season.
He reminded his Central Valley girls basketball team frequently that luck can affect the outcome of games.
The Bears had a good batch of it in their semifinal win Friday and then the fickle invariable tripped up Central Valley on Saturday.
Sophomore Aubrey Ward-El, who missed her first 10 shots from the field, made the one that mattered the most, a 3-pointer with a defender at her side and one running at her, at the buzzer to lift the Skyview Storm to a come-from-behind 46-43 win over Central Valley in the State 4A championship game at the Tacoma Dome.
Sydney Emory put the Bears into the title game the night before when she made a 3-pointer with 4 seconds to go.
Yes the final shot sent CV (25-3) to defeat, but it can be argued that the seeds for the loss were sewn earlier – in the final 3 minutes when the Bears, after taking a 43-38 lead, never scored again and had some critical mistakes.
Skyview (27-3) put on full court pressure and the first turnover at the 1:46 mark resulted in a three-point play that pulled the Storm within 43-41.
Then the Storm got another steal nine seconds later and Stephanie McDonagh scored to pull Skyview even at 43-43 with 1:32 remaining.
CV finally got the ball across midcourt and a jumper by senior Brooke Gallaway in the key rolled off with 1:11 to go.
Skyview missed a shot with :42 remaining and CV had one final shot to take the lead. But a driving off balanced attempt by Emory didn’t have a chance, bouncing harmlessly off the left side of the rim with 21 seconds remaining.
The Storm took a timeout seven seconds later. CV defended the last play well until Ward-El took the ball and launched the winner.
“We had three or four turnovers and a couple of fouls. They were critical,” Rehkow said. “It’s nerves and it happens. What really hurt us is we missed a couple (of shots) here and there (and they had) a couple of rebounds where they came out of nowhere and got the putbacks. To lose on a 26-, 27-foot fadeaway, what do you do? We had two (defenders) right at her. We defended it really well. We won the same way (Friday).”
It didn’t surprise Rehkow that Ward-El hadn’t made a shot until the final attempt.
“Those are usually the ones that are going to get you,” he said. “It sucks. There really isn’t any irony. All season long I’ve told the girls you’ve got to be healthy, you’ve got to have some good chemistry and you’ve got to have some luck. We had both good and bad this tournament.”
CV started strong, using a 10-0 run to end the first quarter with a 15-5 lead.
The Bears hit a dryspell in the second quarter but managed an 18-15 lead going into halftime.
A basket by Skyview’s Jocelyn Adams forged a 29-29 tie going into the final quarter.
Gallaway and freshman Madison Hovren played especially well the first 5 minutes of the final period. Gallaway had three baskets and she bounced a pass between a defender’s legs to Hovren for a three-point play that put the Bears up 43-38.
“I knew they’d come at us,” Rehkow said. “We spent two timeouts trying to break the press. We just panicked. That’s been our Achilles. If we’d just settled in a little bit and relaxed and reversed the ball a couple of times …. They came after us. It wasn’t like it was a soft press. They let us get it in and they came at us full bore. They’re a little taller than we are and that made it tougher to throw over (the top).”
Skyview’s size also altered several CV shots.
Gallaway was named to the all-tournament first team. Hovren was named to the second team. Skyview’s Brooke Bowen was named the most valuable player.
“I’m very pleased. I thought they did great all season – from last year to this year,” Rehkow said, alluding to the Bears bouncing back from a 10-11 record a year ago.
Gallaway led CV with 12 points, four rebounds and two assists. Hovren had seven rebounds and four blocks.
“We didn’t take care of the ball,” Gallaway said of CV’s finish. “We kind of panicked. They got into us and did what they needed to do. It didn’t end up going our way. We had a great year. We played our butts off. My teammates and my coaches did everything they could. We just didn’t end up having the luck at the end.”