PASCO -- It almost didn't seem fair.
The Yakima All-Stars had turned a 19-point deficit into a three-point lead, when the Tri-Cities All Stars pulled out their trump card: the Chiawana Riverhawks' starting five.
The same group of players who led Chiawana to a third-place finish in the Class 4A state tournament last week in Tacoma.
Led by the Riverhawks, Tri-Cities rallied for a 79-71 victory in the 18th annual All-Star Media Classic on Saturday at Pasco High School.
"That was awesome," Chiawana's Shelby Ellsworth said. "We got to get together one last time."
The only thing missing Saturday was Chiawana coach Steve Davis barking at his players.
Instead, point guard Melanie Valdez called out the plays as the Chiawana players ran them nearly flawlessly.
"I think it pulled us through in the end," Chiawana's Hayley Hodgins said. "We know how to play with each other, and it was good because we have a connection."
Mikaela Rivard hit a 3-pointer, Hodgins hit a 3-pointer, a jumper and a free throw, and it gave Tri-Cities a bit of breathing room as it took a 67-64 lead with 5 minutes, 36 seconds remaining.
"We saw we had five of them on our roster, and we had planned to get them all in together late in the game," Tri-Cities co-coach Daron Santo said. "It worked perfectly because Yakima went on a big run, so we put them in and told them to call their own plays.
"That was a big advantage for us to have the Chiawana team. They did really good."
The Riverhawks exited halfway through the fourth quarter, and then it was the Kamiakin and Richland players' job to close the deal.
After four quick points by La Salle's Savannah Bonny and a lay-in by Granger's Italia Mengarelli, Yakima suddenly had a 70-67 lead with 3:04 remaining.
But Tri-Cities quickly got it back.
Kamiakin's Khadidja Toure made two free throws, and her sister Sira Toure then got a steal and a lay-in for a 71-70 lead with 2:41 left. Khadidja Toure then saved a ball going out of bounds, flipping it to Hanford's Colette Gall, who put it in for a lay-in and a 73-70 lead.
After a Mengarelli free throw, Richland's Mandy Machinal banged home a 3-pointer and Tri-Cities was on its way to its fourth consecutive Media Classic victory.
"I think at the beginning we were hitting our shots," Santo said. "Yakima got into a rhythm in the third quarter -- they got used to playing with each other. When that happened, we put Chiawana in, and it slowed (Yakima's) momentum."
Tri-Cities was favored on paper, featuring 13 Class 4A and 3A players. Class 2A Grandview's Payton Parrish and Marissa Caballero rounded out the roster. Yakima, on the other hand, had just four Class 4A and 3A players, and two of them got injured and didn't play.
But Yakima got big play from Class 1A Mengarelli, and Prosser's Tayshia Hunt and Tamara Jones played solid as well.
Yakima outscored Tri-Cities 25-10 in the third quarter to erase what had been a 37-18 lead with 6:38 remaining in the first half.
Kennewick's Angelique Whistocken started the Tri-Cities comeback by banking in a 3-pointer at the third quarter buzzer. It was one of 11 3-pointers
Tri-Cities made, to just four for Yakima.
Hodgins was named the Most Valuable Player, finishing with 19 points and four rebounds. Khadidja Toure added 12 points and five rebounds, Gall had 11 points and six rebounds and Machinal had nine points.
Mengarelli led Yakima with 17 points. Hunt added 10 points and four rebounds, LaSalle's Lauren DeGooyer had five points and a game-high 11 rebounds and Zillah's Alisi Uasike had four points and eight rebounds.
Prosser's Jones won a 3-point shootout during halftime.
Jones and Hodgins both made 10 in the first round to advance to the finals, where Jones put on a show. The Prosser senior then made 16 3-pointers, including seven in a row, in the 1 minute allotted time to win the title. Hodgins made eight in the final.
YAKIMA ALL-STARS (71)
Tamara Jones (Prosser) 2 2-2 6, Savannah Bonny (LaSalle) 3 0-0 6, Paige Albrecht (West Valley) 1 1-2 3, Tayshia Hunt (Prosser) 4 2-4 10, Sammi Jo Blodgett (Wapato) 4 1-2 9, Alisi Uasike (Zillah) 1 2-4 4, Lauren DeGooyer (La Salle) 2 0-0 5, Analisa Van Oostrum (Sunnyside Christian) 2 0-0 5, Italia Mengarelli (Granger) 4 7-9 17, Amber Jones (White Swan) 2 0-0 4, Taryn Cobane (Davis) 1 0-0 2, Shannon Bland (Ellensburg) 0 0-0 0, Yasi Mohsenian (East Valley) 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 15-23 71.
TRI-CITIES ALL-STARS (79)
Khadidja Toure (Kamiakin) 4 3-7 12, Mandy Machinal (Richland) 3 0-0 9, Marissa Caballero (Grandview) 1 0-0 3, Sira Toure (Kamiakin) 2 0-0 4, Hayley Hodgins (Chiawana) 7 2-4 19, Britney Pringle (Richland) 1 0-0 2, Sadie Sparks (Chiawana) 1 0-0 2, Courtney Nelson (Kamiakin) 1 2-4 4, Payton Parrish (Grandview) 2 0-0 5, Colette Gall (Hanford) 5 1-1 11, Mikaela Rivard (Chiawana) 2 0-2 5, Angelique Whistocken (Kennewick) 1 0-0 3, Yessica Diaz (Pasco) 0 0-0 0, Shelby Ellsworth (Chiawana) 0 0-0 0, Melanie Valdez (Chiawana) 0 0-0 0. Totals 30 8-18 79.
Yakima All-Stars 13 20 25 13 -- 71
Tri-Cities All-Stars 22 26 10 21 -- 79
3-point goals -- Yakima 4 (Mengarelli 2, Van Oostrum, DeGooyer), Tri-Cities 11 (Machinal 3, Hodgins 3, K. Toure, Caballero, Parrish, Rivard, Whistocken). Total fouls -- Yakima 17, Tri-Cities 19. Rebounds -- Yakima 58 (DeGooyer 11), Tri-Cities 61 (Gall, S. Toure 6). Turnovers -- Yakima 22, Tri-Cities 29.
* Craig Craker: 509-582-1509; email@example.com