Princess reigns in Media Classic girls game

March 17, 2013 

The Tri-Cities roster listed Panisesi Taimani as a 6-foot-1 senior post out of Kennewick High School.

Her mom calls her Princess.

But she was the queen of the court Sunday during the 20th Media Classic girls basketball game at Pasco High School.

Taimani scored a game-high 16 points, hitting 8 of 12 shots from the floor and overpowered a smaller Yakima lineup during a 91-59 Tri-Cities victory.

“They have some good posts, but I knew if I just pushed I could get good position inside,” said Taimani, who verbally committed to play at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene on Thursday. “I was really happy to play with the girls from the Tri-Cities.”

Columbia Basin College women’s coach Cheryl Holden, who coached the Tri-Cities team, was impressed with Taimani’s ability to make things happen on the low block.

“If she gets her footwork down, she can be dominating at the next level,” Holden said of the game’s MVP.

Taimani scored eight of Tri-Cities’ first 10 points, and Walla Walla sophomore Madi Doepker converted a three-point play to give Tri-Cities up 13-4 just 5:13 into the game. Columbia Burbank senior Harley McBride drove the left baseline for a layin and drilled a 3-pointer off an assist from Bianca Gonzales on the next possession to give TC a 20-10 lead with 2:02 left in the first.

Sunnyside sophomore Jordan Rodriguez cut the lead to 35-27 with a layin off a Tri-Cities turnover, but Hanford junior Colette Gall hit four free throws and Gonzales drilled a 3-pointer during a 9-0 run to give Tri-Cities a commanding 44-27 lead at the half.

“I thought we were really balanced. All the kids played well together,” Holden said. “Everybody got some touches. It was nice to see that.”

Gall finished with eight points and 11 rebounds, and Doepker added 14 points in her first Media Classic appearance.

It was the sixth consecutive Media Classic victory for theTri-Cities girls, who lead the series 16-8.

Taimani came in late in the third quarter to score back-to-back buckets off assists from Chiawana junior Delaney Hodgins during a 15-4 run that put Tri-Cities up 67-39 heading into the fourth.

“It’s an honor to play alongside the best players in the Tri-Cities,” said Kiona-Benton senior Bailey Schroeder, who also won the girls 3-point contest, edging out Lyndsey Oswalt of Granger 8-7 in the final round.

Asked if she ever had to guard Taimani during their AAU club days, Schroeder answered simply.

“Not for very long. She’s a lot stronger than I am,” Schroeder said.

Hodgins finished with 12 points, and Connell senior Kody Easterday made another strong Media Classic showing for Tri-Cities, scoring all of her 11 points in the second half.

Oswalt led Yakima with 11 points.

YAKIMA — Alvarez 2-9 0-0 4, Mercer 1-6 0-5 3, Parrish 1-7 2-2 4, Rodriguez 2-5 1-4 5, Caballero 2-6 0-0 4, Wood 1-4 2-2 4, Juarez 0-1 0-0 0, Cordova 0-1 0-0 0, Gratton 1-3 0-0 3, Perez 1-3 1-1 3, Grasseling 1-2 0-0 2, Lyndsay Oswalt 2-8 7-10 11, Villegas 0-1 4-6 4, Gray 2-6 1-2 5, Van Belle 4-13 0-1 8. Totals 20-75 18-33 59.
TRI-CITIES — Nelson 1-1 2-4 4, Toure 3-11 2-2 9, Gall 1-4 6-6 8, Panisesi Taimani 8-12 0-0 16, Pringle 1-7 1-2 3, McBride 2-9 0-0 5, Delaney Hodgins 5-9 0-0 12, Schroeder 0-1 0-0 0, Kody Easterday 5-7 0-2 11, Gonzalez 1-4 0-0 3, Rodriguez 0-3 0-2 0, Corrigan 1-5 0-0 3, Schauble 0-0 3-4 3, Madi Doepker 3-4 8-9 14. Totals 31-77 22-31 91.
Yakima 14 13 12 20 — 59
Tri-Cities 22 22 23 24 — 91
Highlights — 3-pointers: Y 1-11 (Gratton); TC 7-20 (Hodgins 2, McBride, Easterday, Gonzales, Corrigan, Toure); Rebounds: Y 49 (Mercer 6), TC 64 (Gall 11); Turnovers: Y 23, TC 26; Assists: Y 7 (Juarez 2), TC 15 (Nelson 3, Hodgins 3); Steals: Y 12 (Van Belle 3), TC 14 (Nelson 3).

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