Cheney Free Press -

By PAUL DELANEY
Staff Reporter 

Cardinals collect fifth-place trophy at state

Back-to-back tournament losses end Cinderella season for Medical Lake girls

 

Medical Lake athletics

The Medical Lake girls came home with a fifth-place trophy at the state 1A basketball championships. It was the school's first trip to the tournament since 1991.

The Medical Lakes girls' magical basketball journey ended when they reached into their bag of tricks last weekend at the Sun Dome in Yakima and found it empty.

Playing in their first state tournament championship round in nearly 30 years, the Cardinals fell to a familiar foe, La Salle, 65-61 in overtime, a loss that dropped them to fifth place in the 1A event.

But it was a trophy none-the-less for Medical Lake, who in 1991 ended up fourth. "(I) wish it would have ended a little better, but to place fifth is still pretty darn good," head coach Kyle Lundberg said. Medical Lake finished the season 23-2.

Earlier, Medical Lake topped La Center in their tournament opener 45-31 on March 1, using a big fourth quarter rally to key the win. That was followed March 2 by the team's first loss on the season to eventual champ Lynden Christian 64-40 in a game where the Cards never recovered from a slow start.

In their trophy tilt with La Salle, a team that beat the Cardinals 47-45 in a regional round of state play a year ago, Medical Lake got off to a strong start, leading by a as many as 11 points in the first half.

The Lightning, from Union Gap, got it rolling in the third quarter, trimming it to 40-39 on a Tatiana White field goal midway through the period and then taking their first lead early in the fourth on White's 3.

In the second half, Medical Lake had a few possessions where they got careless with the ball, Lundberg said. "They were able to capitalize and get some defensive steals and fast breaks," he added.

Trailing by as many as five points in the fourth, a pair of Jessie Lohman free throws sent the game into overtime, tied at 59. Jayda Noble briefly gave the Cardinals the lead 61-60 in overtime with her free throw shooting.

But LaSalle (21-5) got the next five points – including Kamryn Fiscus' NBA-range fade-away 3-point basket as the shot clock expired - to clinch it, but "That didn't lose it for us," Lundberg said.

Lohman led the Cardinals with 17 points, followed by Noble's 15 and 12 from Makayla Geiger. Fiscus led all scorers with 19 points.

The previous night, back-to-back 3-point baskets by Riley Dykstra staked Lynden Christian to a quick 8-0 lead and the Lyncs were never challenged. They led 38-14 at the break and a 16-0 run after halftime increased the lead to 47-14.

"The first half they were 7-for-7 with 3s," Lundberg said. "It was just one of those games where they couldn't miss."

In the second half, Lynden Christian, located near Bellingham, came back to earth connecting on only 50 percent from the arc, but it obviously did not matter.

But a bigger factor, both on defense and offense, was the height factor. "I think every position we were giving up three or four inches," Lundberg said.

Dykstra led a trio of LC players in double figures with 21 points. Noble was the only Cardinal in double-figures with 10. The Lyncs beat Cashmere the following night 50-48 to claim the title and finish a perfect 27-0.

Lundberg said that playing without Jaycee Oliver, who sprained her ankle in the first game, could have played a part in the loss. "She's kind of that sparkplug that does a lot of good things that go unnoticed," Lundberg said.

Playing in the cavernous Sun Dome was a concern for Lundberg, so much so he took his team to a shoot-around in what he thought was the next best place, his former high school in nearby Wapato.

But still, Medical Lake had issues in their opening game against the La Center Wildcats from just north of Vancouver, Wash.

"We didn't shoot the ball well the first three quarters," Lundberg said. "I think trying to adjust to that atmosphere took us a while."

Medical Lake trailed 19-18 at halftime, and 28-22 going into the fourth quarter when the Cardinals woke up. They went on a 21-0 run and outscored La Center (22-3) 23-3, not giving up those points until the final 48 seconds.

"It started on the defensive side," Lundberg said about forcing turnovers with a zone press defense, "Kind of flustered them."

Lexie Redell led the Cardinals with 15 points while Noble had six points and 13 rebounds.

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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