A dominant performance on the glass led the Central Valley Bears past Issaquah, 72-55, in a girls 4A state quarterfinal game on March 5 at the Tacoma Dome.
The loss sends the Eagles into a loser-out game against Moses Lake at 10:30 a.m. on March 6 in Tacoma. The winner of that game will move on to the fourth-place game on March 7. Issaquah lost to Moses Lake, 65-45, back on Dec. 27.
Central Valley outrebounded Issaquah 42-18, including 16 offensive boards, in their victory. Issaquah head coach Doug Crandall said there were times during the Eagles’ loss where they defended well, but the Bears were able to get an offensive rebound leading to a bucket.
“It’s a killer,” Crandall said about the second-chance opportunities. “(Central Valley) is so good, so you’ve got to take advantage of your stops.”
Central Valley started strong, using its speed to take a 37-24 lead at halftime. Crandall said he was happy with how the team responded to Central Valley’s pace without having time to practice.
“(Central Valley) came at us right away,” Crandall said. “I thought we adjusted to the pace of their play, but you’re not practicing this time of the year and it took a little bit to get used to.”
After falling behind 43-26 midway through the third quarter, the Eagles started to heat up offensively. With 30 seconds left in the third quarter, Alivia Stephens hit a 3-pointer to pull the Eagles within seven points at 51-44. A pair of free throws from Central Valley’s Chloe Williams gave the Bears a 53-44 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Eagles have shown their ability to rally against tough opponents this postseason, but the Bears closed the door in the fourth quarter. Central Valley scored the first eight points of the quarter to extend its lead to 61-44 with five minutes remaining. The Bears cruised to victory the rest of the way to advance to the state semifinals.
Crandall said the team knew it had overcome bigger deficits this season, but it would require almost everything to have gone the Eagles’ way to pull themselves back into the game against Central Valley.
“When you get down, almost everything has to go right,” Crandall said. “A couple of those things didn’t.”
While the Eagles were hoping to advance to the semifinals, there is still plenty left to play for with a fourth-place finish still possible.
“There’s that cliché, ‘Only one team wins their last game,’ but that’s not true here,” Crandall said. “It’s fun to win that last game, it’s fun to win that trophy. I’ve always admired the teams that come down here, lose a game, but they come back and play well. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”