Opening day of the Class 3A state basketball tournament brought plenty of excitement for the Enumclaw High girls’ program, which kicked off its 2009 tourney experience with an overtime victory over the Franklin Quakers.
The March 11 win was followed by losses the next two days, putting the Hornets’ season to rest, but that didn’t diminish Enumclaw’s accomplishments in the eyes of coach Ted Carlson.
“We definitely walked out of there with our heads held high,” Carlson said of the three days his Hornets spent in the Tacoma Dome.
The EHS girls made their state tourney appearance after finishing third in the South Puget Sound League 3A and then cruising through the West Central/Southwest bidistrict tournament.
“We had been on quite a roll down the stretch,” Carlson said, recalling the four straight West Central/Southwest bidistrict victories that sent the Hornets to state.
Enumclaw 46, Franklin 41
“The highlight was definitely the first game, playing with high energy like we did,” Carlson said. “We put a lot of pressure on them the whole game.”
It wasn’t the prettiest game found at the Dome, with the teams combining for 52 turnovers and enough fouls to result in 62 free throws. During the fourth quarter and the four-minute overtime period, Enumclaw connected on 13-of-18 from the stripe to pull away.
The game featured plenty of late-game dramatics, starting with two clutch free throws by Heather Hitch that gave Enumclaw a 37-36 lead with 18 seconds remaining in regulation. Franklin standout Carol Howard was sent to the line for two shots with less than a second on the clock, giving the Quakers an opportunity to escape with a win. She missed the first shot but connected on the second, forcing the overtime period.
Franklin scored first in OT, but Hitch – who had scored all eight of Enumclaw’s third-quarter points – countered with four points of her own and Mara Koplitz added five free throws to put the game on ice.
Hitch finished with 19 points and eight rebounds, while Koplitz added 17 points and seven boards. Chloe Ramberg pulled down 13 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end.
Meadowdale 45, Enumclaw 37
The Thursday loss to the traditionally-tough Mavericks provided a contrast in numbers. Enumclaw outscored Meadowdale from the line and held the rebounding edge, but committed 18 turnovers and shot a lowly 19 percent from the field.
Connecting on just nine of 47 shots was enough to drop the Hornets into the consolation bracket.
Carlson agreed that his troops suffered a letdown after the hard-fought victory the day before.
“Emotionally and physically, we were a little drained the second day,” he said. As a result, “we had a tough time getting some quality shots.”
In a turnaround from opening day, it was Meadowdale putting heavy pressure on the Hornets and getting the best of the battle.
Hitch again led the way offensively, posting up for 14 points while grabbing 11 rebounds. Koplitz added 11 points.
Lakeside 52, Enumclaw 40
The scenario from the day before was repeated Friday, as the Hornets couldn’t buy a bucket in the early going and fell into a deep hole.
Enumclaw managed just four points in the opening quarter and trailed 25-15 at halftime, shooting a miserable 12 percent from the field (3-of-25). The Hornets were nearly 11 minutes into the game before Jessalyn Clark connected on the team’s first field goal.
Just as they had done Thursday, however, the Hornets showed they still had plenty of fight. Eventually trailing 31-17 in the third period, Enumclaw mounted a 13-2 rally to slice Lakeside’s lead to 33-30.
The comeback fizzled when the Lions regained their composure and put together a short scoring burst of their own, pushing the advantage back into double digits.
Koplitz finished her Hornet career by scoring the team’s final eight points.