WRHS GIRLS BASKETBALL: White River one win away from 3A state appearance

A single victory separates the White River High girls from another appearance in the Class 3A state basketball tournament.

The big show in the Tacoma Dome is familiar turf for coach Chris Gibson and his Hornets, who have qualified for the elite field of 16 teams 10 times in Gibson’s dozen seasons at the White River helm.

This year’s four-day, double-elimination tournament begins March 10.

Looking to again make the state field, the Hornets join 15 other teams in the West Central-Southwest District tournament that kicks off Saturday and wraps up March 5. Half the teams in the district field will qualify for state.

White River, with a season record of 17-4, enters district play as the No. 2 seed from a one-game subdistrict series that had teams from the South Puget Sound League 3A going up against squads from the Seamount League. The Hornets, as the regular-season SPSL 3A champion, were paired against Kennedy Catholic, the Seamount No. 1 and the top-ranked team in the state.

Playing Friday night at Foster High, Kennedy prevailed 73-63 to improve to 18-3 overall.

The Hornets dug themselves into a first-half hole and could not escape. White River trailed 19-10 at the end of the first quarter and 38-20 at halftime.

The deficit was explained by a look at the first-half statistics, which showed White River hitting just five of 26 shots during the opening 16 minutes. Adding to the Hornets’ misery was the fact that Kennedy dominated on the boards.

“We played much better in the second half,” Gibson said. “I was pleased with the fact that we didn’t roll over.”

The Hornets were led in scoring by Megan McKune’s 15 points, 13 from Brooke Paulson and 12 from Sabra Sproul.

White River’s district odyssey begins at 8 p.m. Saturday when the Hornets square off against No. 3 ranked Prairie High at Auburn Riverside High School. Prairie, with an overall record of 16-5, enters district play as the No. 2 seed from the Southwest District after being upset by 13-9 Camas.

A lone victory in district play will send White River to state. Due to their high seed, the Hornets are in a double-elimination bracket.

If the Hornets win Saturday, they will play again at 6 p.m. March 3 at Kent’s ShoWare Center; their opponent would be either Bonney Lake, Capital or Port Angeles. If the Hornets win that one, they will play March 5, again at ShoWare, for the district championship. If the Hornets lose Saturday, they will play at 8 p.m. March 3 at Clover Park High in a winner-to-state, loser-out game.

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