White River postseason begins with 75-63 loss to No. 1-ranked Kennedy

Having already faced the best the state of Washington can throw at them, the White River High girls now jump into a 16-team district tournament that will eventually send a lucky seven to the Class 3A state basketball championships.

White River kicks off its West Central/Southwest district experience tonight, Wednesday, with an 8 p.m. battle against the Hazen Highlanders. The game will be played at Franklin Pierce High School.

The Hornets got a good look at Hazen Friday night, as coach Chris Gibson and some of his players scouted the Highlanders’ victory over Enumclaw. They saw a team led by freshman Airashay Rogers, who averages nearly 19 points per outing and poured in a game-high 22 against Enumclaw.

“She’s a real nice player,” Gibson said. “We have to take care of her.”

If the Hornets are victorious tonight, they will not play again until March 6 at Auburn High against an opponent still to be determined. Should the Hornets lose tonight, they will play at 8 p.m. Friday at Clover Park High School.

White River began postseason play Saturday night by taking on the Kennedy Lancers, the top-ranked 3A team in the state. Their clash was part of a crossover series between the South Puget Sound League 3A and the Seamount League and was used for seeding purposes into district play.

Kennedy captured the top position with a 75-63 victory over the Hornets at Auburn Mountainview High School.

“We played really well at times,” Gibson said, noting that his crew led 19-12 after one quarter of play, went into the locker room tied at 35 and was down just four points midway through the third period.

“We gave them all they could handle,” Gibson said, but Kennedy’s overall quickness and athleticism eventually was too much.

The Lancers are undefeated this season and lost just three games last year – all to eventual state champion Auburn Riverside. The third defeat came in the state title game.

Against Kennedy, the Hornet offense was led by Brooke Paulson’s 20 points. Megan McKune added 16 and Kendall Williams contributed 11.

This year’s state tournament is planned for March 11-14 at the Tacoma Dome.

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