Pirate girls, Vandal boys 3rd in GCGL Tourney
TOUGH SHOT: Bickleton sophomore forward Cesareo Arriaga shoots over the arms of Yakama Tribal senior Christian Vigil during the opening boys game of the GCGL District Tournament last Tuesday in Goldendale.
Although all local teams have been eliminated from the Greater Columbia Gorge League District Tournament, there was plenty of excitement throughout the week as the teams battled for one of the two regional tournament spots.
The Klickitat-Glenwood Vandals combined to form teams just this year and both the boys and girls were able to make an appearance in this year's tournament, the first time in a handful of years any team from Klickitat reached postseason play.
The Bickleton Pirates boys and girls continued their recent run of playoff appearances and each had a key player return for the tournament, but none of the four local teams were able to secure a spot in the finals.
Reaching regionals out of the GCGL this year was no easy task for any local team. Sunnyside Christian has been at the top of the conference for years and its boys (No. 2 ranked by WIAA RPI) and girls (No. 8) teams had lost just a handful of games all year. The Yakama Tribal boys also flirted with a top WIAA RPI ranking this year while its girls boasted a press defense that gave many teams fits.
However, during the tournament's opening day last Tuesday, the Klickitat-Glenwood girls and Bickleton boys flirted with upsets against the Eagles but couldn't hang on against the teams from Toppenish.
During last Tuesday's opening game, the Vandals girls, coached by first-year leader Adam McFall, jumped out to a 12-4 advantage over the Eaglesafter a strong first quarter where they owned the boards and were able to force Tribal into tough shots offensively. However, Yakama Tribal came out with its press fully loaded and made life tough on the Klickitat-Glenwood ballhandlers in the 73-39 contest.
The Eagles outscored the Vandals 50-16 over the middle two quarters to pull away for their third win this season against Klickitat-Glenwood. Yakama Tribal was able to force many turnovers, which it turned into easy transition points at the other end of the floor. Senior Mackenzie Tuthill led the Vandals with 13 points and senior Jenna Blake added nine.
Last Tuesday's second contest pitted Bickleton, who played without senior big man Riley Brown, and the Yakama Tribal boys. The Pirates were unable to top Tribal in two regular season contest, but played right with the Eagles throughout the first half.
Just as soon as the Pirates tied the game at 32 after a 5-0 run in the opening minutes of the second half, the Eagles began to score in bunches like they've been able to do throughout the year. They forced Bickleton into many turnovers and their quick guards, led by Bryan and Justin Strom, helped Tribal to a 40-27 second half advantage and the 72-54 win.
Also during last Tuesday's opening round, top-seeded Sunnyside Christian beat the Bickleton girls 61-18 and the Sunnyside boys beat Klickitat-Glenwood 65-22.
After the tournament resumed on Friday after being postponed a day, the Vandals and Pirates girls and boys matched up in a pair of exciting elimination games.
After a back-and-forth first three quarters, the Bickleton girls closed the game on a 14-4 run to beat the Vandals 42-32. Junior Kira Harvey led three Pirates who finished in double figures with 16 points. Junior Emily Hanson, who scored a career-best 13 points in the team's last meeting against the Vandals on Jan. 27 in Bickleton, added 12 points while senior Hali O'Banion finished with 10.
"Emily Hanson peaked at the right time for us," Bickleton girls coach Teresa Gannon said in an email. "Her last few games were the best I have ever seen her play."
She was able to show off her nice midrange jumper while also scoring from the free-throw line, and also knocked down her first career 3-pointer in the fourth quarter which put the Pirates up eight late in the game.
The Pirates also benefitted from the return of freshman Rosy Molina, who was tough in the paint and helped limit Klickitat-Glenwood's second chance opportunities. Molina and O'Banion also combined to grab 23 rebounds. O'Banion also did a good job limiting Tuthill, who's posted some big scoring numbers this season against the Pirates, to 14 points.
However, Bickleton was eliminated by the Eagles a day later, falling 66-22.
It was a tough year for the Pirates, who had just six players throughout the year and had to play with five girls for a handful of games. They exceeded nearly everyone's expectations for the third place GCGL finish.
Shortly after the Bickleton girls won, the Vandals boys proved that the fourth time is a charm when they knocked off the Pirates 48-41 for their first win against them this season.
Having lost three straight games to the Pirates this year, including a thrilling 51-50 loss on Jan. 27 in Bickleton, the Vandals were able to win their first game against their district rivals when it mattered most.
Senior guard Rylee Holycross scored a game-high 17 points including seven in the fourth quarter and the Vandals held senior forward Riley Brown to eight points. Brown was playing in his first contest since injuring his ankle in a Jan. 28 loss to Lyle-Wishram, and the Vandals did a good job of limiting his touches deep in the post after he torched the team for 28 points on Jan. 27.
Sophomore Hunter Dawson got the Vandals off to a quick start in the opening quarter after he converted a 3-point play and also hit a 3-pointer to give the team a 14-11 lead after one. It remained a two-point game throughout the second as the Vandals went up 23-21 at the half.
After Bickleton senior guard Kyle Underwood's lay-in gave the team a 27-25 lead, Dawson answered with another triple to put the Vandals up for good. In the fourth, Holycross and junior Easton Atchley's offense helped hold off Bickleton's comeback bid.
Sophomore Cesareo Arriaga hit two 3-pointers and Underwood added another basket from long range in the fourth, but the Pirates couldn't complete the comeback. Arriaga finished with 12 points and 13 boards while Underwood led the team with 16 points and chipped in nine rebounds and five steals.
The Vandals magic ran out a day later when they were eliminated by Sunnyside Christian after a strong defensive effort from the Knights. The Knights won 76-16 and outscored Klickitat-Glenwood 33-5 in the opening quarter.
The double elimination tournament continued Tuesday in Zillah, with results unavailable at press time. If the Sunnyside Christian boys beat Tribal, or if the Eagle girls beat the Sunnyside Christian girls, then the tournament continues Wednesday.
All Opponents Boys
Bickleton: Riley Brown and Kyle Underwood
Klickitat-Glenwood: Rylee Holycross and Easton Atchley
DRIVING BASELINE: Bickleton junior Emily Hanson tries to drive past Klickitat-Glenwood sophomore Becky Fink during Friday's GCGL elimination game at Goldendale High School.
Lyle-Wishram: Elijah McCullough
Sunnyside Christian: Cade Bosma, Chance Marsh, Lane Marsh and Luke Wagenaar (Player of the Year)
Yakama Tribal: Jason Axtell, Isaiah Strom and Justin Strom
Bickleton: Kira Harvey and Hali O'Banion
Klickitat-Glenwood: Bailee Green and Mackenzie Tuthill
Lyle-Wishram: Alex Cloud and Larissa McConville
Sunnyside Christian: Kristen Broersma (POY), Sailor Liefke and Alyssa Martin
Yakama Tribal: Jada Liulamaga, Nayha Mills and T'Mesh Mills