YAKIMA -- It was the day before Kameron Jenks' 33rd birthday, and his Connell girls basketball team had a perfect idea for an early birthday present Friday at West Valley High School.
The Eagles' 40-21 Class 1A regional victory over University Prep may not have been wrapped as tightly as coach Jenks may have liked, but it fit him just fine.
"All in all, we didn't play our best basketball. We just couldn't get into a good rhythm. It was a lack of energy or something," Jenks said. "That said, we're in the top eight at state. At this time of year, it doesn't matter how you got there."
MarciAnne Hawkins and Michelle Schultz combined for 24 points and 16 rebounds to lead Connell (21-4) back to the 1A state tournament after a five-year run was broken last season.
Both Hawkins and Schultz have siblings -- Hawkins has six, Schultz one -- who reached state in basketball, and the pair of seniors went with them every year as spectators. But each wanted one last chance to go as a player.
"I'm telling you, I've been to a lot of state tournaments. But it's nice to be able to talk about your own experience," Hawkins said.
Hawkins' pedal-to-the-metal playing style exemplifies Connell's defensive philosophy, and she was critical in making University Prep's backcourt into a frenzied mess.
"We knew one of (University Prep's) weaknesses was handling the ball, and we wanted to take advantage of that," Jenks said. "(Hawkins) is just an unbelievable combination of rebounding, defending and scoring. We've been playing her as more of a 2-guard to allow her to get more scoring."
Hawkins led all scorers with 13 points, but her biggest contribution was on defense, where she recorded six rebounds and six steals while helping force the Pumas into an astounding 40 turnovers.
"We were trying to keep the pressure on them. When all five girls are covered, it's hard to make a good pass," said Hawkins, a four-year varsity letterman.
Schultz joined Hawkins on varsity as a sophomore and the pair went to state in 2011, but last season the Eagles missed out on state for the first time since 2007 with a loss in the final 16.
"That was really disappointing last year," said Schultz, who finished with 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. "At the end of the season, we all talked about our goal to get back."
Connell led 12-6 after one quarter, but Pumas junior post Anja Beard started establishing her dominance inside, pulling down nine of her game-high 13 rebounds and scoring five points in the second quarter to bring University Prep to within 19-15 at halftime. She finished with seven points to lead the Pumas.
"They outrebounded us by 10 at the half, so I got on them a little bit," Jenks said.
The third quarter was the difference in the game. Beard bodied her way inside for two points to lead off the scoring, but Prep didn't hit another shot in the quarter, going 1-for-11 during the frame. Meanwhile, Connell took advantage of the Pumas' scoring drought, going on a 8-0 run to extend a 28-17 lead.
Kylie Booker snuffed Beard on a runner in the lane and later capped the quarter scoring with an elbow jumper. Booker finished with five points and three blocks.
Madison Riner also provided some emotion, racking up four steals and four rebounds -- all offensive -- in just over 11 minutes of play.
"Madi is always solid off the bench," Jenks said.
Kody Easterday added nine points and nine rebounds for Connell, which shot 16-for-61 (26.2 percent), hitting just 1-of-11 from the 3-point line. University Prep shot 10-of-41 (24.4 percent) and didn't attempt a single 3-point shot.
UNIVERSITY PREP -- Taylor 2, A.Wilson 4, Jencks, Western, Anja Beard 7, L.Wilson, Khangaonkar, Dominguez 6. Totals 10-41 1-7 21.
CONNELL -- MarciAnne Hawkins 13, Easterday 9, English, Michelle Schultz 11, Thompson, Vickerman 2, Booker 5, Riner, Kroontje, Spencer. Totals 16-61 7-18 40.
University Prep 6 9 2 4 -- 21
Connell 12 7 9 12 -- 40
Highlights -- 3-pointers: UP 0-0, C 1-11 (Easterday). Rebounds: UP 43 (Beard 13), C 43 (Schultz 10); Turnovers: UP 40, C 20; Steals: UP 4 (Taylor 2), C 22 (M.Hawkins 6); Booker 3 blocks; Beard 3 blocks.
Chelan 64, Columbia (Burbank) 35: Harley McBride had 11 points and three assists, and Julie Mosqueda added nine points, but the Coyotes couldn't overcome the Goats' sharp shooting in a Class 1A regional loss at Central Valley.
Courtney Dietrich had 21 points, 13 rebounds and three assits for Chelan, which jumped out to a 41-20 lead in the first half.
"We were working our tails off, but they just flat out beat us tonight," said Burbank coach John Muchlinski.
Tasha Idler had a strong game for the Coyotes (18-6) away from the basket with five boards and three blocks.
"It's the best run we've had in the last three years," Muchlinski said. "We're really proud of the girls. They really stepped up and played well this year."
COLUMBIA (BURBANK) -- Harley McBride 11, Martineau 6, Aguilar 2, Lott, Roberts 2, Cotsford, Magellon, Idler 3, Mosqueda 9, Dorsey 2.
CHELAN -- Courtney Dietrich 21, Cooper, Phelps 11, Hawkins, Robinson 8, Godwin, M. Dietrich, S. Dietrich, Schramm 10, Habrich 7, Villastnor, Stockholm 7.
Burbank 7 13 4 11 -- 35
Chelan 20 21 13 10 -- 64
Highlights -- Tasha Idler 5 rebounds, 3 blocks; McBride 3 assists; Rachel Roberts 4 rebounds; C. Dietrich 14 rebounds, 3 assists.