Two in regionals, only White River girls advance | State Basketball

Kristin Sturdivan prepares to launch one of her crucial 3-pointers during White River’s regional win.

White River Girls

To be the best, you have to play the best.

That line of thinking meshes perfectly with the White River High girls basketball team, which appears Thursday in the quarterfinal round of the Class 2A state tournament. Game time is 3:45 p.m. in Yakima’s SunDome.

Thursday’s opponent is Mark Morris (22-2), ranked No. 1 in the state. As proof of how good the Monarchs can be, they defeated White River by 31 points when the two squared off during a mid-January, nonleague tussle.

Should White River knock off the Monarchs, they will play at 7:15 p.m. Friday against the winner of Thursday battle between River Ridge and Ellensburg, both unranked. If White River falls on Thursday, the Hornets will play at 12:15 p.m. Friday against the River Ridge/Ellensburg loser.The Yakima tourney is a double-elimination affair.

Advancing to the Class 2A Elite Eight is nothing new for the White River girls program, which has enjoyed a remarkable run under coach Chris Gibson. The Hornets have made the state field (the Sweet 16) in 15 of the past 17 seasons; recently, White River placed third three years ago and brought home fourth-place honors last season.

The Hornets qualified for Yakima play Saturday afternoon at Puyallup, defeating the Blaine Borderites 60-51 in the regional round of the state tourney.

The victory was a struggle from the beginning for White River, which usually breaks out to an early lead. Saturday, however, the Hornets missed everything from the field during the game’s early stages and were unsuccessful on six tries from the free-throw line. As a result, more than five minutes elapsed before White River cracked the scoreboard and Blaine enjoyed a 12-10 lead after a period of play.

The Hornets spent the next two quarters slowly stretching a lead that reached 14 points by the end of the third quarter. Again, things turned difficult and Blaine eventually went on a nine-point run that cut White River’s lead to just 49-46 with 1:31 to play.

That’s when senior Kristin Sturdivan buried a crucial 3-point bomb that snuffed the Blaine rally. White River put things away with some timely free throws and the inside work of sophomore Kendall Bird, who converted two offensive rebounds to putback buckets.

Bird and Amanda Lance led the Hornet effort with 19 points each and Sturdivan added 14.

White River Boys

When things looked bleakest, the White River High boys basketball team bounced back.

Trailing 42-26 at halftime to the Squalicum Storm, the Hornets stepped on the floor and promptly rattled off a 16-0 run that tied Saturday’s contest at Puyallup High School – a game that marked the regional round of the state tournament.

Perhaps digging from such a deep hole took its toll on the Hornets, who entered unranked yet gave the Storm all it could handle. In the end, the Bellingham boys posted a 68-59 victory and will play again Thursday in the Class 2A Elite Eight in Yakima.White River is done for the season.

Saturday’s regional contest saw Squalicum bury four 3-pointers in the first quarter and four more in the second, appearing to have the game in hand. White River’s heroics continued after the 16-point outburst and the Hornets led 49-47 when senior Brandon Scheer nailed a jump shot with 4:58 to play.The Storm answered with an eight-point run, taking control for the final time. Squalicum hit seven of eight free throws to keep its lead down the final stretch.

Sophomore Alex Wallen scored 19 points – 15 in the second half – to lead the Hornet offense. Playing their final games for White River, seniors Dustin France and Scheer added 16 and 14 points, respectively.