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Freeman earns chance to defend

Two-time state champs romp

WENATCHEE – Defense bred offense for the Freeman girls basketball team, which forced 27 turnovers en route to a 64-32 victory over Cedar Park Christian Saturday in a 1A regional game.

The Scotties (25-1) turned the Eagles’ miscues into 30 points on the other end and secured a spot in the final eight Thursday at the Yakima SunDome, where Freeman will be looking for its third consecutive 1A championship.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Freeman senior Alyssa Maine, who led all scorers with 20 points. “I’ve gone to state all four years, but this is a really special group of girls.”

Maine and the two other seniors on Freeman’s roster – Emily Paukert and Danny Cossey – were freshmen when Scotties coach Ashlee Nimri took over the program.

“Every year we lose seniors and people say, ‘What are you going to do?’ ” Nimri said. “Our girls showed up these last two weeks when it counted and proved that they deserve to be where they are.”

Freeman found itself in its second elimination game of the postseason after ripping through the regular season unbeaten.

Nimri and Maine agreed that the Scotties’ loss to Newport in the District 7 tournament was a positive for the team.

“I think it fueled us,” Nimri said. “We forgot what those feelings of a loss were like, and hopefully we won’t have to feel it again.”

“We saw it as a wakeup call,” Maine said. “We got together and decided that we had to pick it up on defense, where we really pride ourselves.”

It showed on Saturday, as Freeman used its defense to cover up for an early bout of bus legs that left the Scotties’ offense sluggish.

Freeman forced 18 turnovers in the first half alone against the Eagles and went on a 20-2 run over a 10-minute span at the end of the first quarter through halftime that effectively put the Eagles out of the game.

Cedar Park Christian took a 6-0 lead out of the gate, but never led again after Freeman went ahead 10-8 two minutes later.

Rachel Staudacher, who entered the game averaging 22 points per game for Cedar Park Christian and will play for the University of Montana next year, had 18.