TACOMA – The horn sounded and Gabe Medrano turned and raised three fingers to the North Central cheering section.
In its first trip to state, the North Central girls basketball team knocked off the Kamiakin Braves for the second time in a week, 52-42, to capture third at the State 3A tournament Saturday afternoon at the Tacoma Dome.
“I’m almost speechless,” Medrano said moments later. “We had to make some adjustments. The big one was how we were going to respond after last night,” Medrano said. “I asked them if they were going to let it affect them or were they going to dig in. For the first time coming here and doing the things that they did it was pretty amazing.”
The Indians finished with a 19-9 record, seven more wins than their previous best. They set the bar so high in their first trip, it will be difficult to top for a while.
Senior post Tara Van Weerdhuizen, an all-tourney first-team pick, led NC with 17 points, 18 rebounds and four blocked shots.
“I can’t really explain how I feel, but I’m very ecstatic,” said Van Weerdhuizen, who was named to the all-tournament first team. “It’s a great memory, a great way to end our season.”
NC handled Kamiakin 45-32 in a state opener at Shadle Park High School. The Indians knew Kamiakin would be inspired to avenge the loss.
“They (the Braves) thought they had played bad against us (last week),” Medrano said. “I told the girls you’ve got to let them know it was because of us they had a bad game not because they played bad.”
It took a while, though. The game was tied 35-35 through three quarters.
When Kalen Via hit a 3-pointer with 5:35 remaining, the Indians began to pull away.
“I told them not to let their fatigue be an excuse,” Medrano said. “They had to find a way to win because it was a game we should win. We did in the fourth quarter when we needed to, and we got stops.”
Via had 12 points and Riley Holsinger added 11 with eight rebounds, four assists and four steals.