TACOMA – At no point did the Lewis and Clark Tigers feel the game was out of reach.
Not down 12 points with 1 minute, 35 seconds to play in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s State 4A girls basketball championship.
Not when the Tigers’ scoreless drought reached 4-plus minutes in the fourth quarter after pulling within five against Eastlake.
But in the end, the red-hot shooting that got LC to the title game never came.
Coupled with Keeli Burton’s second-half performance for Eastlake, that led to a 53-47 defeat to the Wolves.
Eastlake captured the program’s first state championship, behind a double-double by Burton – 22 points and 12 rebounds. Sixteen of her 22 points came after halftime.
When it comes to State 4A championship games, the Greater Spokane League dominates. Saturday marked the 12th time in 14 seasons a GSL team was represented in the title game, and looked to be the fifth team from the league to win it all the past six years.
LC is 4-2 in 4A title games. While disappointed by the defeat – “I know we can play better,” said guard Dominique Arquette, one of six seniors – her emotions equally were fueled by how far the program’s come under second-year coach Gabe Medrano.
“This year,” Arquette said, “we came in hungry.”
That hunger started early. LC, which last reached state when it won the 2011 4A title, entered state as winners of 11 straight. It added two more behind Thursday’s quarterfinal win over Glacier Peak, and a hot-shooting game inside and outside to down title hopeful Kentridge in Friday’s semifinal.
But LC shot 33 percent against the Wolves and never led after Haley Huard’s basket made it 25-23 Eastlake with 6:31 left in the third.
Arquette (a team-best 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range) hit back-to-back 3s to cut the deficit to 43-38 with 4:52 to play. Eastlake responded with a 7-0 run for its largest lead at 50-38, all while holding the Tigers scoreless for more than 4 minutes.
LC didn’t have a field goal for 4:15 until Arquette’s first of back-to-back 3s.
“We didn’t finish,” Medrano said. “In games, you have to finish.
“A few more stops and a couple of more points, it’s tied.”
LC’s leading scorer, UNLV-bound senior Jacinta Buckley (16.9 points per game), was limited to eight points on 4-of-18 shooting but had a game-high 18 rebounds as the only Tiger to play all 32 minutes.
Buckley said she’s happy she and her teammates are bringing back hardware to Spokane – second place in the program’s first tournament appearance in eight years.
“I’m so proud of our girls,” Buckley said. “We fought hard, and that’s all we can ask for. We didn’t give up, and I’m proud of that.”
Glacier Peak 58, Central Valley 53: Mya Erling scored 19 points and the Grizzlies (23-4) beat the Bears (22-5) in the third-place game.
CV led 49-37 after three quarters but was outscored 21-4 in the fourth.
Tomekia Whitman led CV with 18 points. Camryn Skaife had 15 and Mady Simmelink added 10.
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