Hornets keep afloat with 45-34 victory

The Enumclaw High girls kept their state tournament hopes alive with a 45-34 victory Friday night over Mount Rainier.

Heather Hitch and the Hornets stayed alive in the hunt for a state berth Friday night.

The Enumclaw High girls kept their state tournament hopes alive with a 45-34 victory Friday night over Mount Rainier.

With the win, the Hornets are just one victory shy of making an appearance in the March 11-14 Class 3A championship in the Tacoma Dome – and they get two chances later this week at securing that all-important win.

The team next plays Friday against Auburn Mountainview in a winner-to-state contest. Game time is set for 6 p.m. at Clover Park High School in Lakewood. If the Hornets defeat Mountainview, they play at 4 p.m. Saturday at Auburn High to determine the No. 4 and No. 6 state seeds from the West Central/Southwest bidistrict tourney.

If the Hornets fall to Auburn Mountainview, they get a second shot at state Saturday afternoon. That 2 p.m. game, also at Auburn High, will send the winner to state as the bidistrict’s No. 7 seed, while the loser is eliminated.

Enumclaw and Auburn Mountainview split their pair of regular-season games. During the loss to the Lions, the Hornets played three good quarters but dropped the game when they allowed too many second-chance points down the stretch, coach Ted Carlson said.

The victory over Mount Rainier wasn’t particularly pretty in the first half, when Enumclaw quickly fell into an 11-2 hole. A pair of Alex Chenowyth 3-point bombs, one to cap the first quarter and another to open the second, put the Hornets back in the game. Enumclaw managed to stay close the remainder of the first half and headed to the locker room on the short end of a 20-17 score.

The Hornets regained their composure in the third quarter, cut back on some unforced errors and – thanks to a 10-1 run that was highlighted by a pair of Jaynae Sayler 3-pointers – eventually took the lead.

“The difference was a little more intensity, especially on defense,” Carlson said. “The girls came out in the second half and really picked it up.”

Leading by five points headed into the final frame, Enumclaw sealed the victory at the free-throw line. While sinking just one field goal in the final eight minutes, the EHS girls went to the line 17 times and connected on 11 shots.

“The key in a low-scoring game is to get to the line by being aggressive,” Carlson said.

Equally important was the defensive jobs turned in by Chloe Ramberg, who had the primary job of containing Marisa Blair, the Rams’ leading scorer. Blair managed 12 points but was held to five in the crucial second half.

Jessalyn Clark finished with 11 points and Sayler had 10 to lead the Hornet offense. They were equally effective on the boards, with Clark hauling down 10 rebounds and Sayler grabbing eight from her guard spot.

The Enumclaw girls opened their bidistrict experience the evening of Feb. 25 with a convincing 67-51 victory over Capital High. It was a loser-out affair.

“We played as well as we have all year,” Carlson said.

Leading the offense were Mara Koplitz with 17 points, Heather Hitch with 14 and Clark with 12.

Reach Kevin Hanson at khanson@courierherald.com or 360-802-8205.

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