YAKIMA – Archbishop Murphy’s inside-outside tandem of Julia Lucas and Maddie Hill was too much for East Valley to handle on Friday and the Wildcats stunned the top-seeded Knights in the State 2A girls tournament semifinals 56-48 at the SunDome.
The Knights (21-2) will face East Valley (Yakima) in the third-place game at 11:15 a.m. A win would give the Knights their second third-place finish in the last three seasons and would equal the best placing in school history.
Lucas scored 20 points, hitting 10 of 13 field goals on basically layins to finish with 20 points, and Hill had two crucial 3-pointers and chipped in 13 points as the Wildcats got back to the title game for the second time in school history.
Despite having success inside through the first three periods, the Knights seemed to get flustered as the Wildcats took the lead and fired up an ill-advised series of shots. Archbishop Murphy was able to limit the Knights to one field goal for the first 4:35 of the final period, turning a four-point deficit into a six-point lead.
“We were taking some shots that we didn’t want to take,” East Valley coach Rob Collins said. “We can shoot well from the outside, but if those aren’t falling, we need to work the ball inside. We weren’t doing that.”
Emily Fletcher hit her second field goal of the fourth period to pull East Valley closer briefly, but the Wildcats hit a couple of quick baskets and the Knights’ deficit was 50-42 with 2:07 left.
The Knights were pounding the ball inside throughout the first half and got results. Beside a series of close-in field goals, they also shot free throws on six of the first eight fouls called on the Wildcats. On the half, East Valley hit 10 of 15 attempts from the line.
Sharpshooting Faith Adams had three 3-pointers in the half, and as a team East Valley was 4 of 8 from beyond the arc.
Sophomore Lucas kept the Wildcats close with some effective work in the paint. She had eight points and six rebounds in just 10 minutes of action. That was a harbinger of the Knights’ second-half problems.
“We didn’t make the adjustments we needed to and they started feeding their bigs,” Collins said. “They were doing a good job in there.”
The Knights struggled to embrace prosperity. At the 5:09 mark in the second quarter, East Valley had a 13-point lead, only to see an eight-point Wildcats run cut it down to six at halftime.
East Valley dashed out to an 11-point lead in the third quarter, only to have it cut to four heading into the final quarter.
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