The Issaquah girls basketball team lost two close games at the 4A KingCo league tournament, finishing fourth.
Issaquah head coach Doug Crandall said they can take some of the positives from both games into the Wes-King district tournament.
“There’s a new season next week in districts,” Crandall said. “We’re going to practice hard and come back. I feel good about where we’re at in terms of how we’re competing.”
The Eagles opened the tournament against the Inglemoor Vikings on Jan. 7 at Issaquah High School with a spot in the KingCo championship game on the line. After falling behind 13-6 after the first quarter, the Eagles fought their way back into the game. The Vikings held a narrow 24-23 lead at halftime. After an evenly matched third quarter, the Vikings took a 40-39 lead into the fourth quarter. Inglemoor held on for a 49-46 win, sending the Eagles to the third-place game against Eastlake.
After a hard-fought first half, the Wolves held a 21-17 lead at halftime. In the third quarter, Eastlake extended its lead and took a 37-29 lead into the fourth quarter. The Eagles once again rallied to get back into the game late, tying the game at 45-45 with 3:26 left.
In the final minute of the game, Eastlake’s McKayla Matsuoka put the Wolves ahead, 51-47. Issaquah forward Alivia Stephens answered back with a 3-pointer to cut the Wolves’ lead to 51-50 with 32 seconds left. The Eagles had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the final seconds, but Keira Hanson’s shot was blocked. Eastlake’s Kaylia Jackson added two free throws to secure the 53-50 win and clinch third place for the Wolves.
“For the last 20 seconds of the game, we got exactly what we wanted,” Crandall said. “It just didn’t bounce our way.”
Crandall said despite the two losses, the team was able to fight its way back into the games against tough opponents.
“Whether we’re down or it’s tight, we’re competing,” Crandall said. “I think earlier in the season in the few games we lost, we were getting down to good teams and we folded a little bit. We are no longer folding, we are competing. Every game going forward is going to be against good teams in tight games.”
With loser-out games on the horizon in the district tournament, the Eagles will have to stick together. Crandall said he expects his team to respond well to having its back against the wall.