Back in December, the Moses Lake Chiefs handed Issaquah a 20-point loss, but when the two teams met again for a spot in the fourth-place game at the 4A state tournament, it was a different story.
The Eagles defeated the Chiefs 68-57 to keep their season alive for one more game on March 6 at the Tacoma Dome. Junior forward Alivia Stephens had a game-high 21 points and sophomore guard Keira Hanson was a perfect 5-for-5 from beyond the arc in the victory. Hanson, who finished with 20 points and five assists, said the team was ready to prove how good they were and to surprise Moses Lake.
“We wanted revenge,” Hanson said about their rematch with the Chiefs. “We knew that we didn’t show our best selves that night (in December). Today, we’d be even more ready.”
Issaquah head coach Doug Crandall said the No. 12-seeded Eagles came into the game against Moses Lake with something to prove.
“There was a little chip on the shoulder in some ways, and I think that’s good,” Crandall said. “We want people to know we’re good and I think that today they showed that. That is a good team we just beat and I’m super proud of them.”
At the start, the two teams were deadlocked at 9-9 with three minutes left in the first quarter. Issaquah closed out the quarter on a 10-0 run to take a 21-11 lead heading into the second quarter. After the Chiefs cut the Eagles lead to two late in the second quarter, Stephens hit one of her three 3-pointers in the game to give Issaquah a 34-29 halftime lead.
Issaquah extended its lead to 12 points with four minutes left in the third, but Moses Lake cut the Eagles lead to 44-38 going into the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs scored the first six points of the quarter to even the game at 44-44 midway through the fourth. The Eagles responded, with Hanson making three quick 3-pointers and Stephens adding one of her own to put Issaquah up 56-46 in the blink of an eye. Issaquah closed the game out strong to keep their season going for one more game.
Hanson said she felt good about the 3-point shots that she took, so she just kept shooting and they kept going in.
“I knew it was a special game and I was open, so it felt good,” Hanson said. “When I hit the first one, I thought that I might as well shoot the second one. I think that’s the effect of the Tacoma Dome, with the bright lights, everything feels good when things align.”
The Eagles made nine 3-pointers as a team in the victory over the Chiefs. Crandall said the team hit big shots when they needed them and that gave them even more energy and confidence.
“We shot well and we shot well at big moments,” Crandall said. “The shots that we hit, we had to have and they came in bunches. I don’t have research to back it up, but I think shooting can be contagious sometimes.”
The path to the fourth-place game hasn’t been easy for the Eagles. They’ve had to battle it out in loser-out games and lost a pair of close district playoff games to Lake Stevens and Glacier Peak.
“After one of those losses, we talked about how the story of our season hadn’t been written yet,” Crandall said. “To see them bounce back after yesterday and to come into this game showed tremendous character.”
Hanson said another source of motivation was the fact that they wanted to keep playing with their three seniors; Katie MacNary, Katie Kellum and Lauren Frueh.
“We really wanted to win because we love our seniors,” Hanson said. “We wanted to play one more game with them.”
The Eagles will wrap up their season against Todd Beamer in the fourth-place game at 8 a.m. on March 7. The winner will finish fourth and the loser will finish sixth. Hanson said it would be great to end the season with a win.
“We want to end on a good note because this season has been great,” Hanson said. “A lot of unexpected things have happened and we’ve made it this far. We want to end on a good note.”