The Central Valley girls finally got a game. For eight minutes anyway.
But another oppressive second-half defensive effort, and a big contribution from an unlikely source, allowed the Bears to take control despite an uncharacteristic low offensive output from its star.
Lacie Hull led the Bears with 13 points and No. 1 seed Central Valley (26-0) outlasted fourth-seeded Moses Lake (24-1) 51-33 in a state 4A semifinal at the Tacoma Dome on Friday.
Central Valley will try to earn its second state title in three seasons on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Reigning Gatorade state player of the year Lexie Hull was held 11 points below her average with 10 points, and Hailey Christopher added 10.
Freddie Rehkow’s squad held Moses Lake to five points below its previous season-low, one day after setting state tournament records for fewest points allowed and largest margin of victory.
“That’s a good team. They were undefeated for a reason,” Central Valley coach Freddie Rehkow said,. “They beat Bellarmine Prep, they beat Woodinville. They beat some good teams.”
Moses Lake star Jamie Loera, who is headed to Arizona State, was held to 16 points after scoring 32 points with seven assists in the Chiefs’ quarterfinal win over University on Thursday.
“We threw bodies at her,” Rehkow said, “That was our game plan going in. Play together as a team. We didn’t need one person to locker her down. Let the team do their job.
“We knew coming out we had to try to contain (Loera),” Rehkow admitted. “Not let Abby (Rathbun) control the boards. And pretend everybody else is going to knock down shots. I thought we shut down their roll players really well.”
Loera is the last of three sisters to play Divison I basketball. Her oldest sister Jordan played at Oregon – as did their mother Lori – and middle sister Jessie is a sophomore at Gonzaga.
Rathbun is headed to the West Coast Conference’s San Francisco.
Of course, CV has its three D-I players in the Hull twins, headed to Stanford, and Christopher, an Idaho Vandals recruit.
Moses Lake took advantage first. Loera hit a layup then short jumper on successive possessions and the Chiefs went up 7-4.
CV’s Tomekia Whitman made four straight free throws near the end of the frame, then Hailey Christopher’s soft hook tied it at 13 at the end of one quarter.
That energized the Bears. They scored the first seven points of the second quarter, as Lacie Hull gathered a steal near midcourt and went the distance, then buried a 3-pointer.
Lexie Hull knocked down a 3 a few moments later to push the lead to 24-16. Christopher added a mid-range jumper and a sweeping layup, and Lacie Hull’s follow made it 30-21 at intermission.
Loera led scorers at the half with 11 points, and Christopher had 10 for CV.
“We emphasize team defense,” Rehkow said. “A lot of people worry bout their man. I think in the first quarter that’s what was going on. We were thinking about our own man.
“We talked about it at halftime. Just locking down the defense, playing team basketball, being who we are, doing what we do.”
The Bears opened it up in the third quarter, but from an unlikely source. Camryn Skaife, who averaged 6.3 points coming in, outdid that in one quarter, drilling a pair of 3-pointers and adding another jumper.
“I was just open,” Skaife said. “They were doubling down on Lexie and I decided I should shoot. They were giving me great passes and I was open so I finally knocked them down.
“(Lexie Hull) was getting double-teamed pretty hard. Tough defense. When that happens the rest of us have to pick it up a little bit.”
“(Skaife) went off,” Lacie Hull said. “We really needed her. She’s a great shooter and in this game she really showed that.”
“Big 3s. She did a great job,” Rehkow said. “She took a hard shot and I tried to take her out and she said ‘Nope.’ That tells you they don’t want to step off the floor. They want to finish their business.”
Lacie Hull’s layup at the end of the stanza put CV up by 15 at 43-28.
With a run still in reach, the Bears clamped down on defense in the fourth quarter, forcing Loera and Rathbun into hurried shots. The pair went scoreless in the final frame and Moses Lake was held to three points in the quarter and 12 in the second half.
“I thought the second half, to hold them to 12 points, was pretty solid,” Rehkow said.
“That’s our strongest point,” Skaife said. “We work on that the most and that’s what we try to focus on.”
“As a team we all stepped up,” Lacie Hull said.
So what’s the game plan for the title game?
“Our record is 0-0. That’s what I’m going to say when I walk into that locker room. Our record is 0-0,” Rehkow emphasized. “We know that one game…you have to play it through.
“When that game’s over, if we’re on top, then we have accomplished our goal. If we don’t take care of business then it doesn’t really matter.”
Lacie Hull said it simply.
“Same as always, try to play our best.”
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