KENNEWICK – Lewis and Clark’s three seniors echoed the same refrain. They were not about to let the season end.
The trio took command Saturday during two basketball wins. LC’s youngsters took their cue from the three and within 10 hours the Tigers (25-2) avenged both of their losses and earned a seventh straight trip to the State 4A basketball tournament.
The Tigers, three-time defending state champions, first defeated Mead 55-45, then topped Walla Walla (22-6) 65-48 to claim the region’s third berth. Unbeaten Pasco beat Moses Lake for the regional title.
Turning the tables on the Blue Devils, who had beaten them 70-52 last week, the Tigers reeled off the game’s first 14 points, led 25-6 midway through the second quarter and 31-11 before half.
“That’s clearly what we didn’t do in both of our losses,” LC coach Jim Redmon said.
Earlier in the day, he had talked about LC’s lack of effort against Walla Walla, which had beaten them to every rebound in the regional opener, he said.
This time, the reverse was true. Although rebounds were ultimately even, LC had a decided advantage in the first half.
Senior Jeneva Anderson, who had turned an ankle in the 11 a.m. win over Mead, spent the rest of the day icing the injury. After being an offensive nonentity the first two regional games in the Toyota Center, she scored 20.
“We were all worried, especially after being blown out by 18 points,” Anderson said. “But we came out hard and came out strong as a team.”
Junior Daisy Burke and senior Emily Travis, who had trouble scoring before, combined for 17 points. Burke was 6 for 6 at the free-throw line and Travis buried three 3-pointers.
“We wanted to beat the team that beat us and go to state,” Travis said. “I didn’t want it to end right here, no way.”
“If anything, the losses were good for us,” Burke said. “We had to take the hardest road and prove we could do it.”
Junior Mary Blevins continued with the hot hand she carried in three games in Kennewick. Blevins had 10 points, including a 3-pointer, to help LC finish with six 3-pointers.
Anderson, Travis and Nakia Arquette were first-half offensive catalysts. The Tigers led by 15 at intermission and maintained the edge through three quarters.
Lewis and Clark 55, Mead 45: For the second straight game, the Panthers had their opponent on the ropes. But Kliewer would not be denied.
She scored seven straight points at the outset when LC outscored Mead 18-4 over the game’s final 6 minutes to keep its state-title hopes alive.
“Never for a second was I going to allow us to lose,” said Kliewer, who scored 14 of her team-high 20 points in the second half.
The Panthers (19-6) led by as many as 10 points in the first half behind Tifa Puletasi, who had 15 of her game-high 22 and seven rebounds. LC caught up at 22 as Kliewer and Blevins, like Friday, sparked a comeback. Blevins had two 3-pointers.
Mead went up again 34-26 midway through the third quarter, scoring off second-chance points. Puletasi got three more baskets in the third quarter.
Then Mead missed shot after shot, hitting just 18 of 66 for the game. Kliewer scored with 6 minutes left in the game and hit a 3-pointer a minute later for a 42-41 lead. She added two free throws with 4:20 to go.