TACOMA – Three-time defending State 4A girls basketball champions Lewis and Clark didn’t easily relinquish the crown. But a 13-point first-half deficit proved a mountain ultimately too high to climb.
The Tigers (25-3) were beaten 61-48 by quick and opportunistic Federal Way in the 8:30 p.m. finale Wednesday in the Tacoma Dome.
LC fell behind from the outset and trailed 31-18 with 34 seconds remaining in the first half. A 10-point rally to within a basket, beginning midway through the third quarter, cut the deficit to 33-31 with 1 minute, 50 seconds left in the period.
But successive three-point plays by TyShana Burgess and Chantel Dixon in the final 47 seconds put the Eagles back up by eight points and there was no more fight left in the Tigers.
A record string of 13 straight state tournament victories was ended.
“We just didn’t handle their pressure,” said Tigers coach Jim Redmon. “We haven’t been pressed much. They come at you and we had an unbelievable amount of turnovers.”
The Tigers had 23 turnovers and shot just 15 percent from the field in the first half.
“We looked like the rookies, out there,” Redmon said.
Federal Way coach Danny Graham said that his team was so young, playing mainly with sophomores and freshmen, and LC was so experienced that he didn’t know how they’d react in the game.
“But then I thought, they are so young they probably didn’t know who Lewis and Clark was,” Graham said.
Their ability to handle what their league threw at them, a league Graham said is possibly the strongest in state, convinced him he could press the Tigers and handle their press.
“We feel we’re in better shape than they are and on film they didn’t get back too well,” he said.
All those came into play in the first half when the Eagles put LC on its heels.
The fourth-period rally had Redmon believing his team was over the hump when the Eagles’ lead was two points.
“But we couldn’t sustain it at all,” he said. “We didn’t have anyone on our side put on that kind of pressure. Hats off to them. They are well-coached and made their inside-outside plays work.”
Youngsters Nakia Arquette and Devyn Galland divided up 12 of LC’s 19 first-half points. Jeneva Anderson scored nine of her 11 points in the second half. Three Federal Way players finished in double figures, Burgess with 15 and pesky guard Daah Huertas-Vining with 13.
LC plays Jackson at 2 p.m. today in a loser-out game.
Moses Lake 51, South Kitsap 38: Washington State-bound center Carly Noyes scored 20 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked nine shots to lead the Chiefs (21-6) over the Wolves (15-12).
The 6-foot-5 Noyes shot 10 of 13 from the floor. Sophomore guard Jordan Loera added 16 points, hitting 3 of 5 3-pointers for the Chiefs, who lost to LC in last year’s state title game.
The Wolves were playing in the tournament for the first time in nine years. They were led by the 15 points of Samantha Gulisao. Kelsey Callaghan scored nine and had four steals for South Kitsap. Noyes’ nine blocks were three short of the tournament single-game record.