Enumclaw, White River girls advance in state tournament

The boys, however, made an early exit.

The good news on the local basketball front was that all four Plateau teams – the boys’ and girls’ squads from both Enumclaw High and White River – qualified for their 16-team Class 2A state tournaments.

Two made an early exit, however, falling in regional contests of the “loser out” variety. The two girls’ programs are still alive, though, and will be competing this week among the final dozen appearing at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

Here’s how things played out during last week’s regional contests and where things stand for the local girls’ teams.


As the highest-seeded of the Plateau programs, the Hornets could afford to drop their regional game and still earn a SunDome berth.

That’s just what happened and the White River squad was scheduled to take the floor at 10:30 this morning (Wednesday). The No. 7 Hornets are paired against the No. 10 crew from Sammamish High in a loser-out tilt.

Today’s winner advances in the tourney and is guaranteed at least two more games in Yakima. If White River handles Sammamish the Hornets will square off Thursday against No. 1 Ellensburg. The winner of that one moves to Friday’s 2A semifinals while the loser remains in the running for a tourney trophy.

State tournament action got off to a rather rocky start for Chris Gibson’s girls, who have made an impressive habit of reaching the Class 2A’s Sweet 16.

Having qualified again for the state festivities, the Hornets stumbled in the regional round. Seeded No. 7, White River was rewarded with a trip north to face No. 2 Lynden in the Lions’ home gymnasium.

The February 23 result was 53-29 victory for the Lions, who not only defeated the Hornet girls but held them to a season-low offensive output. It was the second meeting of the season between the two; during a holiday tournament, Lynden took a 58-47 victory.


The regional round of the Class 2A state tournament brought a short road trip for the Enumclaw High bunch. Coach Danny Graham and his squad made the quick journey to Auburn High where they defeated the Mark Morris Monarchs 45-38.

Now in the state’s Round of 12, Enumclaw will begin play in Yakima this afternoon (12:15 p.m. Wednesday) against Clarkston High.

It is another loser-out test for the No. 12-seeded EHS squad, with the winner standing among the eight teams remaining in the hunt for tourney honors. If Enumclaw defeats Clarkston, the Hornets will play at least two more games: Thursday would bring a pairing against the No. 6-seeded team from Archbishop Murphy. The winner of that Thursday game advances to the tournament semifinals while the loser remains in the hunt for trophy honors.


The regional round of the 16-team Class 2A state tournament proved heartbreaking for the White River boys. Playing at Battle Ground High School the evening of February 24, the Hornets fell 55-52 to the Columbia River Rapids.

Because both teams were seeded in the lower half of the 2A bracket, the tourney’s opening round was a loser-out contest. White River had landed in the tourney with the No. 13 seed while the Rapids were No. 12.

The game was close throughout, with the Hornets holding an 18-17 lead after one quarter of play, a 30-28 advantage at halftime and a 42-41 margin at the end of the third period. With the score knotted at 52-52 with 13.4 seconds remaining on the game clock, Columbia River took possession. The Rapids worked some time off the clock and secured the tourney victory with a long, 3-point shot with less than three seconds remaining.

White River’s season will be remembered for a 14-2 run through the South Puget Sound League 2A that produced a league championship. The final season record was 19-6, which included three postseason victories that landed the Hornets in the state tournament.


A road trip of nearly 300 miles ended in disappointment for the Hornet boys, who fell 61-44 to the Pullman Greyhounds.

The loss brought an end to Enumclaw’s 2023-24 hoop campaign, which ended with a 16-9 record.

Enumclaw made the 16-team Class 2A state tournament and, as the No. 16 seed, was paired against the No. 9 seed from Whitman County. The February 23 contest was played in the gymnasium at Cheney High School in Spokane County.

Because both schools were seeded in the lower half of the state bracket, the regional game was a loser-out affair.

Enumclaw put together a late rally but had dug too deep a hole. The Hornets managed just six points in the opening quarter and trailed 33-20 at intermission. Pullman’s lead grew to 21 points (46-25) by the close of the third period.

That’s where the tables turned and the EHS crew mounted a comeback. The deficit was quickly cut to 50-36 and, two minutes later, Liam Leonard buried a 3-pointer to cut the Pullman lead to just eight points at 52-44. Leonard’s long-range jumper proved to be the Hornets’ final points of the night, however, while the Greyhounds added the game’s final nine points, six of those coming on free throws.

The final tally will show coach Terry Johnson and his squad finished 16-9 overall; placed fourth in the South Puget Sound League 2A with a mark of 11-5; and won three postseason contests to reach the state tournament.

Photo by Kevin Hanson
Hornets’ Bella Firnkoess (21) goes up for two points despite pressure from the Monarchs’ Natalie Mejia.

Photo by Kevin Hanson Hornets’ Bella Firnkoess (21) goes up for two points despite pressure from the Monarchs’ Natalie Mejia.