White River falls to Washougal Panthers at regionals

White River’s Sofia Lavinder pushes the ball upcourt during the Hornets’ Saturday afternoon contest against the Washougal Panthers. Photo by Vince Miller.

The tears told the tale.

There was no hiding the raw emotion as the final buzzer sounded Saturday afternoon and the White River High girls walked off the basketball court, coming to grips with the harsh realization that their stellar season had come to a crashing conclusion.

In the regional round of the state Class 3A hoop championships, the Hornets girls ran up against a prowling pack of Washougal Panthers in the Puyallup High gymnasium, losing 40-34 in overtime. The regional round is a loser-out affair, making short work of one of the state’s Sweet 16.

The record will forever show this year’s White River program finished with an overall record of 21-4. That included a perfect 14-0 run on the way to yet another South Puget Sound League 2A title, capped by four district games the Hornets captured by an average victory margin of 28 points. The team’s trio of regular-season losses were to Ellensburg, now playing in the Class 2A Elite Eight; Lynden Christian, which has advanced to the Class 1A Elite Eight; and Snohomish, which tips off this week in the Class 4A Elite Eight.

So, with that impressive resumé, it was to be expected that the Hornets would be reduced to tears after 36 minutes of basketball against Washougal.

White River likely didn’t count on the Panthers only getting tougher after being limited to a measly three points during the second quarter and just 11 in the first half. And they surely hadn’t counted on going scoreless for nearly six minutes, a span that brought the final 358 seconds of the 2015-16 campaign.

But the Washougal group entered Saturday’s game with a record of 18-5 for a reason. The Panthers committed to a scrapping defense that often left the Hornets trapped in the backcourt, dribbling into double-teams or forcing mistakes once they crossed mid-court.

A few crucial numbers tell the story:

14 – points scored by White River in the game’s final 20 minutes;

3 – total points scored by the Hornet starters, minus the game-high 15 scored by Kendall Bird;

2 – free throws converted by White River in 10 attempts, a tough statistic to swallow in a game that went down to the wire. Washougal wasn’t great from the line, connecting on 12 of 23 attempts, but made good on three of four in the late stages of regulation and four of six in overtime.

The Hornets might have been in even rougher shape if not for the spark provided by senior Sydney Andersen. She came off the bench to bury four 3-pointers and score 14 points. Aside from Bird and Anderson, White River’s offense consisted of first-quarter buckets by Darian Gore and Lucy Rasmussen and a third-period free throw by Georgia Lavinder.

Playing their final games for the Hornets were seniors Sidney Schultz, Maci Goethals, Kayla Howard, Dallas Bushaw, Gore and Andersen.