YAKIMA – Survive and Advance.
In the four-day marathon that is the state basketball tournament, that mantra often becomes the focal point for teams.
For the Freeman Scotties it was never truer than Thursday night as they gutted out a 40-35 win over Bellevue Christian in the quarterfinals of the State 1A girls basketball tournament.
The Scotties (25-0) will play Seattle Christian, a 53-31 winner over Zillah, in tonight’s semifinal at 8 p.m. A win there would put them back in the championship game for the second time since 2005.
Survival was the only focus for Freeman on Thursday. The Scotties struggled from the field (8 of 45), the free-throw line (21 of 35) and with turnovers (17). The only thing that mattered as the final buzzer sounded was their position in the semifinals.
At halftime, Freeman coach Ashley Taylor challenged her team to come out and play with the desire of a champion.
“We had hoped that we’d be done dealing with nerves by now and have that out of our system by today,” Taylor said. “Apparently not.”
The intensity was clearly ratcheted up several notches in the second half. A 9-0 run over a period of 3:07 – turning a 27-23 deficit into a 32-27 advantage – turned the tide in Freeman’s favor and the Scotties endured a late Vikings surge to move on.
Taylor’s younger sister, MacKenzie, scored nine of the Scotties’ 28 second-half points, to lead the charge. The younger Taylor scored 11 on the night and grabbed nine rebounds.
Carley Heinen led the Scotties with 14 points and Megan McIntyre added eight and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Freeman survived another horror show in the first quarter, trailing 9-0 before Lyndsey Ruland broke the ice with a single free throw at 3:31. The Scotties had struggled in the first period against La Center in the first round before a 26-point outburst in the second period got things going.
Taylor even resorted to playing a zone defense to jar her team out of its near slumber. In slowing the tempo, the Scotties seemed to almost lull Bellevue Christian to sleep for a period of time.
“You have to make adjustments sometimes,” she said. “The reason we changed was because we as a team were not playing defense.
“We dictated that change, not Bellevue Christian.”
Ater pulling to within 11-6 at the end of the first period, Freeman watched as the Vikings went on a 9-2 tear to open a 20-9 lead.
Vashon Island 73, Lake Roosevelt 50: Alex Wegner and John Gage scored 15 points apiece and the Pirates (24-1) shot 53 percent from the field to defeat the Raiders (16-9) in the quarterfinals.
The Pirates, who play Bellevue Christian (19-6) in tonight’s semifinals, broke open the game with a 21-7 third quarter.
Ed Wolfe had 12 points and eight assists for the Raiders, who play fellow Caribou Trail League member Brewster (22-6) at 2:30 p.m. today in a loser-out game.