YAKIMA – East Valley powered its way to an elusive state championship game berth with a blistering 24-6 start and White River never recovered as the Knights advanced to the State 2A title game after a 67-26 semifinal win in the SunDome on Friday.
The Knights (22-6) will play Washougal in the championship game at 7 p.m. on Saturday. After finishing third (twice), fifth and sixth since 2013, East Valley’s lengthy quest has one step left. The title game is a rematch of a regional round game from a week ago won by Washougal.
The semifinal win was the latest step in an emotional week that began when the team found out that Collin Sather – a University of Idaho football player who graduated from West Valley and was known by a number of players on the Knights squad – had died. The team has been wearing black screen print shirts that say “Play for Sather.”
“It’s been an up-and-down season for us and this (playing for a state title) has been the goal all along,” Knight coach Don Collins said. “When we found out about (Sather), we decided to do this for the Valley. Our rival is West Valley and we wanted to support them.”
The Knights showed that support in the most emphatic way possible. After White River’s Chloe Narolski hit a free throw to open the game, the Knights went on a 21-3 run.
Genesis Wilkinson and Brie Holocek combined for 15 points during the streak and Holocek ended the first period with a 3-pointer from deep on the right wing.
Holocek finished with 16 points, Wilkinson had 11, and Ellie Stowell had 10 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
While the semifinal win was easy, as a hoarse Collins reflected on getting to the title game for the first time, he talked about a time earlier in the season when he wondered whether the team had lost sight of itself. The Knights split their six games before coming to Yakima after starting the season 16-3. But an unexpected regional round loss served as a wake-up call.
“We dropped a couple games earlier in the year and I think we started to not believe a little,” Collins said.
“That Washougal game put a little spark in us and we’re really playing as a team right now.”
Washougal girls 53, Clarkston 45: Beyonce Bea scored 21 points and the seventh-seeded Panthers (21-4) topped the third-seeded Bantams (23-3) to earn a spot in the title game.
Lauren Johnson led Clarkston with eight points. The Bantams face No. 4-seed White River in Saturday’s third-place game at 1 p.m.
Lynden boys 52, Pullman 40: Clayton Whitman scored 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting and the top-seeded Lions (25-1) defeated the Greyhounds (21-6) to earn a spot in Saturday’s title game.
Jacob Wells paced Pullman with 16 points and Konner Kinkade added 10. The Greyhounds play Renton at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday in the third-place game.
Clarkston boys 47, Columbia River 40: Tru Allen scored 22 points and added four assists as the sixth-seeded Bantams (17-9) eliminated the No. 2-seeded Chieftains (22-5).
Gus Hagstead added 16 points for Clarkston, which plays North Kitsap at 8 a.m. on Saturday in the fourth-place game.
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