Another 30 seconds might have been enough.
But despite a 13-6 run over the final 31⁄2 minutes Thursday at the Yakima SunDome, the Connell girls basketball team couldn’t sustain a mighty comeback attempt in a 46-42 loss to Castle Rock in the Class 1A state quarterfinals.
The Eagles trailed 40-29 midway through the fourth quarter, and it looked like their chances of advancing to the semifinals were all but lost. But Rockets’ post Tierney Uhlenkott, who led Castle Rock with 14 points, fouled out to give Connell some hope.
“When she went out, that’s when we made our big run. We went to a smaller lineup and got some steals in full-court pressure,” Eagles coach Kameron Jenks said. “It felt like we could get it tied up or send it to overtime.”
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Brittany Vickerman hit a big 3-pointer — Connell’s only one of the game — with a minute left to bring the Eagles within 2 points at 43-41. Thirty seconds later, MarciAnne Hawkins stepped up to the free throw line for two shots with a chance to tie the game.
She hit the first one but missed the second to pull Connell within 43-42. That’s as close as the Eagles got. The Rockets hit a pair of free throws to kick the lead back up to 45-42.
Connell got the ball back, again with a chance to tie it, but Vickerman’s 3-point attempt was blocked — one of six blocked shots by Castle Rock.
“We had a good shot,” Jenks said. “They’re a pretty good-sized team, but we held one of their leading scorers, Macee Utecht, to just seven points. But Uhlenkott was stepping up and hitting 16-to-18 footers.”
Michelle Schultz led Connell with 17 points and six rebounds. Vickerman added seven points.
The Rockets had three players in double figures, including Maddi Seidl with 11 points and Kenzie Dahl added 10. Seidl, who averages 20 rebounds a game, had 17 boards to give Castle Rock a 39-32 advantage on the glass.
Connell shot 38 percent (16-of-42) from the floor, better than the Rockets’ 32 percent (15-of-47), but the difference was free throws. The Eagles hit just 9 of 21, while Castle Rock converted 15 of 21 from the stripe.
“That’s what shot us in the foot,” Jenks said.
The Eagles (21-5) will play Cascade Christian (21-2) at 9 a.m. today at the SunDome in an elimination game. The Cougars lost 51-24 to Chelan in the quarterfinals.
“Their game was right after ours. They’re similar to us, but our guard play is better,” Jenks said. “We’ll try and pressure the ball. From what we saw, they don’t shoot the 3 very well. We may also play some zone and hopefully get some rebounds.”
CONNELL—Vickerman 7, M. Hawkins 5, Easterday 2, Booker, Riner 1, Kroontje, English 4, Michelle Schultz 17, Thompson 6. Totals 16-42 9-21 42.
CASTLE ROCK—Kerbaugh, Maddi Seidl 11, Dahl 10, N. Seidl 4, Utecht 7, Tierney Uhlenkott 14, Williquette. Totals 15-47 15-21 46.
Connell 6 11 8 17 — 42
Castle Rock 6 11 16 13 — 46
Highlights — 3-pointers: Con 1-8 (Brittany Vickerman), CR 1-7 (Uhlenkott); Rebounds: Con 32 (Schultz 6), CR 39 (Madi Seidl 17); Turnovers: Con 15, CR 13; M.Seidl 3 steals; N.Seidl 3 assists.