SPOKANE -- Hanford couldn't have asked for much more from Sammi Merry and Laura Hughes, who combined for 49 points in a 66-63 overtime loss to East Valley (Spokane) in the girls 3A Eastern Regional tournament at Rogers High School.
But the Knights had their own ace in the hole, guard Jenni White, who recorded 25 points and seven assists to lead EV into the 3A state tournament for just the second time in school history.
White scored five points in the final 38 seconds of regulation -- including a driving layin around Hughes with 18 seconds left -- to force overtime and added four more in extra frame to secure the win.
"That layin just killed us," said Falcons coach Evan Woodward. "White is tough. We just didn't rotate well enough on defense."
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Hanford had seven seconds left for a shot in regulation with the score tied at 59, but Erin Hegarty's shot in the lane was blocked by Courtney Connors.
The Falcons were trying to reach the 3A state tourney for the third straight season and the fourth time in five years.
Hughes started slowly with just four points and three rebounds in the first 12 minutes. But once she got going, the Eastern Washington-bound senior was unstoppable, finishing with 24 points and 25 rebounds -- one short of Brittney Quick's regional tournament record of 26.
Hughes converted two three-point plays in the fourth quarter alone to keep Hanford in the lead.
Merry came up with her biggest game of the year, hitting 6 of 12 from 3-point range and keeping the Falcons in the game until Hughes got going. Hanford trailed 17-9 in the second quarter before Merry drilled three treys and scored 11 points during an 18-9 run.
"As a group, we fought hard -- almost to a fault in the end," Woodward said. "You can't fault the kids for trying."