Saturday’s State 2A Girls Basketball: W.F. West Defeats Archbishop Murphy For State Championship
COMEBACK: Lady Bearcats Come Back From 10-Point Halftime Deficit for First Title Since 2014
By Matt Baide
YAKIMA — All the hard work, all the hours in the gym, all the blood sweat and tears for the W.F. West girls basketball team finally paid off here on Saturday night.
W.F. West erased a 10-point halftime deficit to come from behind and win 64-52 to claim the State 2A Championship and cut down the nets at the Yakima SunDome and raise the gold ball trophy.
“It feels great, I’m happy for those girls and that’s the deal when you get to be my age. You’re not so happy for yourself, you’re happy for your players always, but probably now more than ever,” W.F. West coach Tom Kelly said. “They worked so hard, they never complained, never late, never complained about anything. I don’t care what we did the whole time. Practices were fun, they were hard and they were fun and there was never one bit of the whine. Unbelievable, that’s why they’re state champions because of how they are, who they are.”
Julia Johnson led the Bearcats with 18 points in the final game of her prep basketball career.
“It feels great, like unbelievable. Just keep shooting and keep working hard, the shots will fall. We just had to play our game and just keep going,” Johnson said about the comeback win.
Kiara Steen scored 14 points in what was also the final game of her prep basketball career.
“It feels great. Just keep our heads up and we’d knew we’d get our momentum back and stuff so just keep your head in the game and eventually it will work out for us,” Steen said on being down at halftime.
Erika Brumfield scored 16 points and Maggie Vadala grabbed a team-high 8 rebounds for W.F. West.
Archbishop Murphy’s Emily Rodabaugh led all scorers with 19 points.
W.F. West began the game with a 4-0 lead, but a 10-0 run by the Wildcats swung the advantage in their favor and helped Archbishop Murphy to an 18-8 lead after one quarter and a 28-18 lead at halftime.
Even with the deficit, there was never any panic from W.F. West.
“Not really because they’ve come back so many times. Not so much this year because we were usually ahead, but they’ve done the summers, AAU, whatever,” Kelly said. “They come back because their character is that. We weren’t panicking, wasn’t happy.”
Kelly also noted the Bearcats changed their defense and it started to produce results. W.F. West chipped away at the lead throughout the third quarter, and a 3-pointer by Taya McCallum put the Lady Bearcats up 43-42 entering the fourth quarter.
Archbishop Murphy tied the game at 48 with 4:35 left in the game, and it was all Bearcats from there, going on a 16-4 run to end the game and clinch the state title.
Kelly wasn’t sure they won until late in the fourth quarter.
“When we were up by 10 with a 1:30 left of something like that,” Kelly said. “I didn’t say it, but I did, I thought we won it then.”
For seniors Johnson and Steen, it was a culmination of playing together for the last nine years. Steen passed it to Johnson with 1:55 left in the game to put W.F. West ahead by 10 in the fourth quarter and essentially seal the victory.
“It feels great to go out this way. Me and Kiara are happy, we can’t wait to see our team back here next year hopefully,” Johnson said. “We’ll probably come up here and watch, it feels great.”
Steen echoed the sentiment of Johnson, and as the granddaughter of coach Kelly, it was even more special.
“It’s awesome,” Steen said as she started to tear up. “That’s the best. So glad that we got this win.”
This is the first state title for the Lady Bearcats since 2014. Kelly began coaching three years ago at W.F. West, and Johnson and Steen have been the rock that has kept this program at the top for the last three seasons.
“Loved them, for the three years that I’ve been the coach here, they’ve started. They’ve been the front wave of our defense, anchored our defense,” Kelly said. “They anchored our team, Kiara the point guard and Julia on the wing, you’ve seen it. You saw them taking over that game, fittingly. …we’ve got to get two more of them. It felt the same but having a grandchild on it is, it’s a big deal.”
With only two seniors graduating for the Bearcats, there’s no reason to doubt that this team will be a top team in the state come November.
BEARCATS 64, WILDCATS 52
Archbishop Murphy 18 16 8 10 —52
W.F. West 8 16 19 21 —64
Archbishop Murphy (52) — Riojas 2, Hill 11, Dorney 2, Lucas 8, Rodabaugh 19, Hayward 4, Graham 6
FG: 18 of 42 —.429 FT: 10 of 15 —.666 Reb: 31 (Lucas 9)
W.F. West (64) — Vadala 2, Johnson 18, Bennett 2, Brumfield 16, Steen 14, Akins 5, Waring 4, McCallum 3
FG: 22 of 57 —.386 FT: 15 of 26 —.577 Reb: 37 (Vadala 8)