The Enumclaw High girls will return to the court tonight, Wednesday, participating in the opening round of the West Central/Southwest district basketball tournament.
The Hornets, who dropped a Friday night battle to Hazen High, enter district play as the No. 6 seed out of the combined South Puget Sound League 3A/Seamount League subdistrict series. They will play at 7 p.m. at Mount Rainier High School against an opponent that was to be decided Monday night.
Monday, Capital High and North Kitsap squared off, with the winner slated to take on the Hornets; results came too late to be included here.
The district tournament has 16 teams battling for seven spots into the Class 3A state tourney, to be staged March 11-14 at the Tacoma Dome.
Tonight’s game is a loser-out affair for the Hornets and Capital. The winner, however, will live to play another day – namely, Friday, against the loser of tonight’s contest between Mount Rainier and Prairie. Friday’s game will begin at 6 p.m. at Auburn Riverside High School.
Enumclaw, which placed third in the SPSL 3A with an 11-5 record, slipped to 13-8 overall with Friday’s 44-42 loss to Hazen in the Auburn Mountainview gymnasium.
Coach Ted Carlson agreed that his crew never fully established an offensive flow against the Highlanders, but that didn’t keep the Hornets from enjoying a slim lead for most of the contest. Enumclaw led 23-18 at halftime and 37-32 after three quarters of play.
Hazen’s winning effort came largely due to guard Airashay Rogers, who entered the game averaging 18.8 points per outing and wound up with a game-high 22.
“We did a nice job on her the first half,” Carlson said, noting that the high-scoring freshman had just six points at intermission. But Rogers took command in the third period, scoring 11 points, than added four more in the opening 90 seconds of the fourth.
While Rogers was leading the Hazen charge, Enumclaw went cold. The Hornets had just five points in the final period, all by Jaynae Saylor, consisting of a jumper at the 6:22 mark and a 3-point bomb at 2:53 that gave EHS a 42-39 lead.
That marked an end to the scoring for the Hornets, who saw Highlander forward Darralita Taylor add a hoop with 2:25 remaining and then put her team in the lead for good with two free throws eight seconds later, following an Enumclaw turnover. Rogers added a free throw with nine seconds remaining and Hazen’s defense kept Enumclaw from getting an attempt at a game-winning shot.
Saylor led the Hornet offense with 11 points and Heather Hitch had 10.
“We just couldn’t find the right combination for what we were trying to do,” Carlson said. “We missed some shots that, some games, we make. But that’s the nature of the game.”
The Hornets also were hurt by their performance at the free-throw line. The team connected on 10 of 18 attempts, but missed all four opportunities in the final quarter.
Reach Kevin Hanson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-802-8205.