TACOMA — The Chiawana girls haven’t made things easy on themselves the entire postseason.
Why start with a piece of state hardware riding on the line?
The Riverhawks built a 19-point lead midway through the third quarter of Friday’s fourth-place semifinal against Lake Stevens, then held on for dear life before claiming a 52-44 victory in the 4A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
Chiawana (25-4), in its first year of existence, will bring home either the fourth- or seventh-place trophy. The Riverhawks play Bellarmine Prep at 1:30 p.m. today in the trophy round.
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“We like it to be interesting,” said junior Melanie Valdez, whose two free throws with 36.8 seconds left helped seal the win. “But this is pretty exciting. It was kind of disappointing not being able to get first, but after that, you try your best.”
Joining the Riverhawks in the trophy round is Moses Lake, which bounced back from its first-round loss to Bellarmine to reach today’s fifth-place game at 11:30 a.m. by beating Newport (Bellevue) 49-34.
The Riverhawks started out each half blazing. They led 11-0 after only 4 1/2 minutes before Lake Stevens (19-7) closed the first quarter on a 10-0 run.
Then Chiawana opened the second half on a 12-0 run, led by Mikaela Rivard, who scored 10 of her season-high 24 points during the first 2 1/2 minutes of the period as the Riverhawks built a 37-18 lead.
“Coach (Steve) Davis is always telling me I need to keep shooting, and since I was making them, that’s what I did,” Rivard said. “I’d been playing down in the post a lot, but because I had three fouls, Coach wanted to get me out on the wing.”
But as the quarter ended, both Rivard and Shelby Ellsworth picked up their fourth fouls in rapid succession. With them on the bench, Lake Stevens’ press started having an effect.
The Vikings scored 13 straight points to get within 41-39 before Sadie Sparks’ bank shot with 3:28 left ended the run.
But a 3-pointer by Corrine Burke brought Lake Stevens within one, and after Chiawana missed on three shots, Brooke Pahukoa was fouled and had a chance to give the Vikings their first lead with 2:12 to play.
She missed both, Rivard rebounded and Davis could exhale on the bench.
“I was getting a little nervous there,” he said. “Mikaela and Shelby are sitting on the bench with four fouls, and when they made their run, I had flashbacks to Federal Way. I thought we were done.”
But unlike the Federal Way game, in which Chiawana took its first lead with 70 seconds left and went on to a 43-40 win, the Vikings never got ahead.
Ellsworth hit a 12-footer on Chiawana’s next possession, and after a Hayley Hodgins steal, Valdez was fouled and hit a free throw with 1:20 left to give Chiawana some breathing room.
Rivard and Valdez combined to hit 6 of 6 free throws in the final 41.7 seconds.
“We just didn’t want to lose,” Rivard said. “This means a lot to us. Our first year as Chiawana, to place, that’s pretty good.”
As for today’s game, Davis expressed a bit of nervousness about the Lions (20-7), who dispatched defending champion Kentwood 63-49.
“They’re really athletic. Every kid can take you off the dribble,” Davis said. “They really came after Kentwood.”
Moses Lake 49, Newport 34
Three straight state appearances for Moses Lake. Three trophy finishes.
The Chiefs (17-13) assured themselves of that with their seventh victory this postseason in the consolation brackets and fifth in a loser-out game.
“I think that just because of the number of people who doubted us, that just pushed us to go farther,” said senior Tiffany Morris, who played through a rib injury suffered in Wednesday’s first-round loss to Bellarmine and had eight points and seven rebounds.
Moses Lake jumped out to a 14-0 lead four minutes into the game and never looked back against a Newport team that shot 2-for-29 from 3-point range and 11-of-60 overall.
The Knights (20-7) got as close as 10 with 6:30 left to play, but Jordan Loera hit a pullup jumper, then fed Kayla Bernsen for a layin as the Chiefs regained control.
“Did I think this (a trophy) was realistic? No,” said ML coach Matt Strophy. “At the beginning of the season, our goal was to qualify for regionals. This is just gravy, whipped cream, nuts, and whatever else you want to throw on top.”
Loera finished with a game-high 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.