White River takes over league’s top spot with win over Enumclaw

Life is good at the top.

Life is good at the top.

The White River High girls finished the first half of the South Puget Sound League 3A season with a perfect 8-0 record, cruised to an 11-0 overall mark and found themselves ranked among the top few Class 3A teams in the state.

Included among the highlights was a Friday night victory over neighboring Enumclaw, a game that meant more than simple Plateau bragging rights. When they took to the court on the White River campus, the hosts Hornets owned a 6-0 league record and Enumclaw entered at 7-0.

After 32 minutes of back-and-forth basketball, White River escaped with a 59-49 victory.

The early stages of the contest belonged to White River, which bolted to a 40-25 halftime lead.

“Our outside shooting early really opened things up for us,‚“ White River coach Chris Gibson said. “Especially those six 3-pointers in the second quarter.”

The Hornets tallied 27 points in the crucial second period, sparked by sophomore Brooke Paulson, who buried four 3-pointers to help the cause.

Kendall Williams, White River’s 6-2 senior center, was a force in the middle, pouring in 16 points in the first half. Aside from her usual repertoire of inside moves, Williams energized the home crowd by nailing a 3-point bomb from the top of the key.

When Williams went to the bench in the third quarter with foul trouble, Enumclaw took over and mounted a 16-4 charge. Eventually, EHS whittled the lead to a single point, trailing 48-47.

That’s when White River showed its first-place toughness, turning back the Enumclaw rally with a series of under-the-bucket hoops.

“We made a nice charge,” Enumclaw coach Ted Carlson said. “I give my kids a lot of credit for coming back like that.”

Gibson was pleased with the way his girls stood up to the adversity.

“The kids could have panicked a little bit, but I liked our resolve,” he said, noting that situations like Friday night’s roller-coaster victory make teams mentally tougher.

Gibson’s only complaint is that his troops are giving opponents too many opportunities from the free-throw line.

“We just have to stop fouling so much,” he said, noting that Enumclaw was sent to the line 29 times and stayed in the game by sinking 24 of those attempts.

Williams finished with a game-high 25 points, Paulson added 14 and Megan McKune had 11.

The Hornets followed Friday night’s emotional victory with a relatively easy, 67-45 Saturday night win over Franklin Pierce.

White River charged to a 20-10 lead by the end of the first quarter, enjoyed a 28-16 halftime advantage and put things away with a 24-12 burst in the third period.

McKune led the offense – which saw 11 Hornets entering the scoring column – with 12 points.

The White River girls had kept their unbeaten streak alive Jan. 13 when they traveled to Sumner and trounced the Spartans 77-34.

The Hornets had little trouble, jumping on top 33-18 at halftime and then putting things far out of reach with a 27-point, third-quarter outburst.

Leading the charge were McKune and Williams, who scored 16 and 14 points, respectively.

White River played once earlier this week, traveling to Peninsula High Tuesday; results came too late to be included here. The Hornets continue SPSL 3A play with home games Friday against Clover Park and Saturday against Auburn Mountainview.

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

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