Friday’s State 2A Girls Basketball: W.F. West Comes From Behind to Defeat East Valley in Semifinals
CHAMPIONSHIP: Bearcats Face Archbishop Murphy at 5 p.m. on Saturday for State Title
By Matt Baide
YAKIMA – W.F. West played on of their worst games of the season against East Valley (Yakima) in the State 2A Girls Basketball semifinals here on Friday.
The Lady Bearcats never gave up though, and Julia Johnson’s layup with four seconds left in the game lifted W.F. West to a 40-38 win.
W.F. West faces Archbishop Murphy at 5 p.m. on Saturday in the Sundome for the state championship.
“It feels so good, especially to win like that. What a thrill, these girls never gave up all year,” W.F. West coach Tom Kelly said. “It’s crazy. I’ve got no words. I thought we were, not afraid, but in the first half, the magnitude of the game, it is fear. If you let that in your head, you can’t play like you’re supposed to play. When you conquer fear, that fear is still there, but they conquered it.”
The game was a struggle for both teams, with W.F. West shooting 31 percent from the field and 3 of 19 from behind the arc.
Despite the poor shooting, W.F. West was down 38-35 with less than 30 seconds left. Taya McCallum received a pass and nailed a 3-pointer. Following an East Valley miss, Kiara Steen and Johnson had a 2-on-1, and Steen found Johnson wide open for the game winning layup.
“How fitting it was to have the MVP’s of the league, Kiara to Julia. How many times have you seen that?” Kelly said. “We hadn’t seen it all game, that was nice to see.”
Erika Brumfield led W.F. West with 12 points and 9 rebounds, and Johnson was the only other Bearcat in double figures with 11 points.
“Oh my goodness, it’s the best feeling ever,” Steen said. “Just trying to keep our head in the game and just work hard because that’s what we always do. Since they took our our fast break, how we do it, we just had to work around it and try to work on offense.”
East Valley’s Ashlynn Sylve led all scorers with 15 points.
W.F. West led 9-7 after the first quarter, but East Valley scored 14 points in the second quarter to take a 21-15 lead at halftime. The Lady Bearcats shot 4 of 23 in the first half.
East Valley expanded the lead to 31-23 going into the fourth quarter.
“Just saying Kiara, you’ve got to keep your hands down, you’ve got to stay in this game or it’s going to end up like last year,” Steen said with four fouls entering the fourth quarter.
W.F. West outscored East Valley 17-7 in the final frame.
Kelly noted the fight from his entire team, even though the game wasn’t going W.F. West’s way.
“At halftime, I said we can’t let our heads dictate how we’re going to play out here. We did for the first half. I said we’re still in this thing,” Kelly said. “I said I will fight. I want you to know that I will fight till there’s no time left and I want you to fight with me, and they did.”
That fight has earned them a spot in the championship game against Archbishop Murphy on Saturday. The Wildcats defeated top ranked East Valley (Spokane) 56-48 in the other semifinal game.
Kelly said after Thursday’s game that W.F. West needed to win the rebounding battle to win, which the Bearcats and Red Devils each had 32 rebounds. Kelly reaffirmed what his team needed to do on Saturday to be the state champions.
“We’ve got to rebound. They’ve got some size. They were down early to East Valley (Spokane) there,” Kelly said. “Keep those bigs off the boards. We’ve got to make them get up and down the court. …that’s what gets the posts. This is their third game, so hopefully we can do it that way.”
BEARCATS 40, RED DEVILS 38
East Valley 7 14 10 7 -38
W.F. West 9 6 8 17 -40
East Valley (38) – Andreas 7, Willett 3, Garza 2, Valdez 9, Sylve 15, Bivins 2
FG: 12 of 41 -.293 FT: 12 of 18 -.666 Reb: 32 (Sylve 8)
W.F. West (40) – Vadala 4, Johnson 11, Brumfield 12, Steen 5, Waring 1, Bennett 3, McCallum 4
FG: 15 of 48 -.313 FT: 7 of 13 -.538 Reb: 32 (Brumfield 9)