Another year, another tournament, another trophy.
Just as they did a season ago, the White River High girls headed to the Class 2A state basketball tournament as just one of eight teams still alive. And, just like last year, the Hornets dropped their opener to Mark Morris before bouncing back with two victories, bringing another fourth-place trophy home to Buckley.
The 2A state tourney was staged Thursday through Saturday at the SunDome in Yakima.
Adding two more victories solidifies White River’s status among the consistently elite teams in the state. To go with last season’s fourth-place finish, the Hornets placed third in 2012. Under coach Chris Gibson, the program has made a Sweet 16 appearance in 15 of the past 17 seasons.
Victory over Lynden
Saturday’s battle for fourth and sixth place didn’t start well for the Hornets, who quickly found themselves trailing Lynden High 18-6, then 21-9.Things picked up in the game’s middle stages, however, as the teams went into intermission tied at 28; by the end of the third period, White River managed a 42-40 lead. The final eight minutes made all the difference, as the Hornets limited the Lynx to just five points while pulling away.
“The kids did a great job,” Gibson said of the comeback. “We just kept trudging along.”
The outcome eventually was decided by a 6-0 White River run midway through the final quarter. With her team ahead just 45-43, senior Kristin Sturdivan nailed a 3-pointer to spark the final rally.
Statistically, the teams were nearly even in most categories, with a couple of glaring exceptions. White River was guilty of just seven turnovers, while Lynden tossed the ball away 14 times.
Additionally, the Lynx had no points from their bench while White River was sparked by a career-high 17 points from Maci Goethals. Along the way, the junior connected on five of seven shots from 3-point range.
“She got us back in it,” Gibson said. “Her scoring was huge.”
Kendall Bird headed the Hornet offense, scoring 22 points.
Lynden’s defensive strategy was to shut down Amanda Lance, one of the Hornets’ all-time leading scorers. The plan worked to some degree, as Lance scored just two points while being blanketed by Lynden’s best defender, but she dished out six assists.
White River: 9-19-14-11 – 53
Lynden: 18-10-12-5 – 45
White River: Kendall Bird 22, Maci Goethals 17, Kristin Sturdivan 9, Darian Gore 3, Amanda Lance 2.
Victory overRiver Ridge
An old sports adage stipulates that it’s tough to beat a team three straight times – and that axiom held true Friday when White River squared off against River Ridge at the 2A tourney.
Both are members of the South Puget Sound League 2A, so the squads met twice during the regular season. White River won handily the first time out and battled through a much closer game to get a second win.
Friday, the Hornets scored just nine points in the second half and watched a double-digit lead slip away before pulling out a 39-38 victory. The team went nearly eight minutes before scoring their first points of the second half.
“They did a nice job defensively and we just went very cold,” Gibson said.
The White River defense largely keyed the win, turning 16 River Ridge turnovers into a dozen Hornet points.
Kendall Bird came up with a big double-double, scoring 13 points while pulling down 10 rebounds.
White River: 12-18-5-4 – 39
River Ridge: 7-13-7-11 – 38
White River: Kendall Bird 13, Kristin Sturdivan 12, Amanda Lance 4, Maci Goethals 3, Georgia Lavinder 3, Darian Gore 2, Kayla Howard 2.
Loss to Mark Morris
When they state tournament schedule-makers put their collective heads together, they did White River High no favors.
In Thursday’s opening round of the eight-team state 2A tourney, the Hornet girls were paired against Longview’s Mark Morris High, the consensus No. 1-ranked team in the state.
That ranking appeared justified Thursday afternoon as the Monarchs blasted the No. 4-ranked Hornets 78-51.
The Mark Morris girls did much of their damage from the outside, eventually scoring more than half their points on 3-point bombs. For the game, the Monarchs put up a whopping 30 shots from beyond the arc, burying 15.
For the three-day tournament, Mark Morris established a Class 2A record by sinking 39 3-pointers.
That outside effectiveness was crucial in the game’s opening stages. The Monarchs launched a dozen 3-pointers during the first quarter, connecting on six, contributing to a 23-16 lead after the first period of play.
By halftime, White River trailed 41-28.
The third quarter was really the Hornets’ undoing, as Mark Morris put together a 26-12 run that put the game on ice.
White River’s offense was paced by Lance and Bird, who scored 10 points each.
For the game, the Hornets shot 34 percent from the field. They were good on 14 of 39 shots from 2-point range and made seven of 23 from beyond the arc. They went to the free-throw line just eight times and made only two.
White River: 16-12-12-11 – 51
Mark Morris: 23-18-26-11 – 78
White River: Amanda Lance 10, Kendall Bird 10, Kristin Sturdivan 9, Georgia Lavinder 7, Darian Gore 6, Sydney Andersen 5, Kayla Howard 2, Lucy Rasmussen 2.