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2A Girls Basketball: Bearcats Get Closer, but Can’t Beat Black Hills in District Title Game

W.F. West’s Kiara Steen tries to juke Black Hills’ Lindsey Nurmi during the District 4 2A Girls Basketball Tournament championship game at St. Martin’s University in Lacey on Friday.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: W.F. West Goes Scoreless in the First Quarter, Blanks Wolves for Final 4 Minutes in 36-33 Loss

By Aaron VanTuyl

avantuyl@chronline.com

LACEY — Tom Kelly joked afterwards — to the entire audience at Marcus Pavilion, in fact, after taking the microphone upon the presentation of the District 4 runner-up trophy — that maybe he shouldn’t have called that timeout.

It wasn’t the only missed opportunity in the Bearcats’ 36-33 loss to Black Hills here Friday night, but it was a good exhibit of just how close W.F. West came to toppling the top-ranked Wolves in the District 4 2A Girls Basketball Tournament championship game.

The timeout came with 4:14 left in the game and W.F. West down 36-30, and was granted just as Bearcat guard Shasta Lofgren was releasing a 3-pointer that dropped in.

“Yeah, you know, there’s that,” Kelly said of the timeout, after the players had cleared the court and the Wolves had cut down the nets for the second year in a row. “And a few of those layups, and a few of those free throws, and we win.”

It was a much-improved performance for the Bearcats against their Evergreen 2A Conference rivals, after a pair of double-digit losses during the regular season. The Wolves (21-1) turned the ball over 21 times, shot 25 percent from the floor and were kept under 40 points for the first time all season.

“We frustrated them,” Kelly said. “We really put some pressure on them, and they didn’t like it.”

The Bearcats, however, didn’t do themselves any favors in the first quarter, failing to score a point and trailing 9-0 after 8 minutes of action.

“There’s some opportunities missed there, and coming out like that, that’s what killed us,” Kelly said. “The game was pretty much decided right there.”

Not entirely, though. Julia Johnson hit a pair of 3s in the second quarter — after W.F. West missed its first nine attempts — and cut the lead to just 2 points at 18-16 going into halftime. And after a 7-0 run to start the third, kicked off by a 3 from Kiara Steen, the Bearcats were actually ahead 23-18.

The Wolves finally found their shooting groove, with Lindsey Nurmi, Megan River and Rachel LaBelle knocking in consecutive triples to round out the third. Maisy Williams’ bucket with 4:34 to go put Black Hills up 36-30, but the Wolves wouldn’t score again and the Bearcats couldn’t quite score enough — missing 6 of 8 foul shots in the fourth quarter and a would-be tying 3 with a few seconds to go.

“But against the No. 1 team in the state — and they could be, you never know — to get down 9 … and to come back and make it a game, I thought it tells a lot about us,” Kelly said. “They’ve got a lot of character.”

Williams led Black Hills with a game-high 10 points, along with 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. Nurmi added 9 points, and EvCo MVP Emma Duff was limited to 6 points.

Johnson and Steen each scored 8 for W.F. West. Lofgren and Lexie Strasser each added 6, and Erika Brumfield scored 5 with 12 rebounds.

W.F. West, playing in its fifth district title game in six years, will not have its playoff schedule impacted by the loss. The Bearcats (19-4) are No. 2 in the WIAA’s RPI rankings (behind Black Hills), and will face the No. 7 team (currently Wapato) next week in regionals. With a top-eight spot in the rankings, the Bearcats have already assured themselves a spot in the State 2A tournament in Yakima that starts on March 1.
At Lacey

WOLVES 36, BEARCATS 33

W.F. West 0 16 11 6 —33

Black Hills 9  9 12 6 —36

W.F. West (33) — Johnson 8, Lofgren 6, Brumfield 5, Steen 8, Strasser 6

FG: 10 of 50 —.200 FT: 7 of 16 —.438 Reb. 34 (Brumfield 12)

Black Hills (36) — Williams 10, LaBelle 6, Patti 2, River 3, Nurmi 9, Duff 6

FG: 13 of 52 —.250 FT: 4 of 6 —.667 Reb. 34 (Williams 11)

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