High School Sports

Connell girls earn share of East title

CONNELL -- Ever since the Connell girls lost at Columbia (Burbank) last month, they'd honed in on Thursday's rematch.

"We've been waiting for this," said senior Sarah McGary. "We weren't going to give up co-league champs without a fight."

The Eagles came out fighting in the second half, opening with a 14-3 run and shooting 60 percent after halftime en route to a 56-47 victory that indeed gave them a share of the SCAC East crown with the eighth-ranked Coyotes.

"That's four years in a row now," said McGary, who led Connell with 12 points and five assists. "We were down a little bit at halftime, but we told ourselves we don't want to feel like we did the last time in the locker room.

"We came out hard in the third quarter, and we got contributions from everyone."

Four Eagles scored during the decisive run, and McGary had three assists as they erased a 23-21 deficit and led 35-26 after Kayla Bjorge's 15-footer from the left wing with 3:45 left in the third.

The lead grew to as many as 11 before the Coyotes recovered. They got as close as 39-37 with 7:13 to play, and were still within three at 44-41 until Bjorge buried a 3-pointer with 3:36 left.

Maci Whitby's steal and layup with 50 seconds left pushed the lead to 53-45, and McGary hit 3 of 4 foul shots to ice the win.

Despite the victory, Connell still will be the No. 2 seed into districts thanks to a number draw. The Eagles open district play at home against Goldendale next Thursday.

"We've got some Goldendale tape," said Connell coach Dan Colby. "But I'll look at it tomorrow. I'm going to savor this one for a day. We've come a long way this season, and hopefully we'll continue to improve."

The Coyotes, meanwhile, knew they'd wrapped up the No. 1 seed when they beat River View on Tuesday.

Still, they wanted the title outright -- something they haven't claimed since 2006.

"We tried to be like this was a no-pressure game because we had those two things locked up," said Coyotes coach John Muchlinski, whose team opens district play at home against Mabton. "But give credit to Connell. They played hard for 32 minutes.

"I don't know if you can ever have a positive loss, but hopefully this gets our focus back and lights that fire again."

Tiffany Idler led Burbank with 20 points. The Coyotes were hurt by poor free-throw shooting (12-of-24) and were outrebounded 33-26.

Laryn Wells added 10 points and Whitby had eight rebounds for the Eagles, who were 12-of-20 from the field in the second half and 19-of-42 (45 percent) for the game.

Connell 56, Burbank 47

COLUMBIA (BURBANK) -- Tiffany Idler 20, Houser 3, Rivas 1, Akerblade 5, Roberts 10, Zuhlke 3, Breazeale 1, Rude 4, Riehle. Totals 17-46 12-24 47.

CONNELL -- Sarah McGary 12, Taylor 4, Gibbons 5, Whiby 7, Bjorge 7, Wells 10, Easterday 1, Booker 2, Riner, Withers 8. Totals 19-42 15-22 56.

Burbank 10 13 12 12 -- 47

Connell 9 12 18 17 -- 56

Highlights -- Bur 1x6 3pt, Con 3x12; Bur 26 rbs, Con 33; Bur 17 TOs, Con 21; Idler 5 rbs, 4 asts, 3 stls; Jeni Akerblade 3 asts; McGary 5 rbs, 5 asts; Maci Whitby 8 rbs; Kayla Bjorge 6 rbs, 4 stls.