High School Sports

Chiawana, ML girls set for showdown

PASCO -- Steve Davis and Matt Strophy have coached against each other a number of times over the years, and one thing has been a constant: well-played, tight contests.

That was never more evident than the meeting between Chiawana and Moses Lake on Dec. 17.

The Chiefs rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to send the Riverhawks to a 61-60 loss -- one of only two losses so far this season for Chiawana.

The two teams meet at 7:30 p.m. today at Chiawana. Both teams are tied with Richland for first place in CBBN 4A at 5-1.

"Honestly, anytime I've coached against Strophy we've had exciting games no matter the situation," Davis said. "When they have kids like Jordan (Loera) and Kayla (Bernsen), anything can happen, and they showed that in the last game when they came back on us."

Loera, who is headed to the University of Oregon next season, scored 24 of her 27 points in the second half to lead the rally in the first meeting.

Chiawana (12-2, 5-1) has plenty of firepower of its own, though, as Hayley Hodgins is second in the conference in scoring at 18.0 points per game. Shelby Ellsworth (12.2) and Mikaela Rivard (11.7) are also in the top 10 in scoring.

Since the loss to Moses Lake and a Dec. 29 loss to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, the Riverhawks have been firing on all cylinders, including winning by 17 at Richland on Jan. 7.

"The biggest thing is we have stepped up our defensive pressure in the half court," Davis said, "and that is carrying over into our offense for us."

Moses Lake (11-3, 5-1) has been struggling a bit of late. The Chiefs only won by four, 42-38, at Wenatchee on Jan. 14 and then struggled in a 52-42 loss at Richland last Saturday.

"I don't look at how they play anyone else," Davis said. "Anytime they are matched up against me, they have played really well."

Pasco: At the start of the season, if you would've told Bulldogs coach Aaron Barcot his team would be in a three-way tie for fifth place with seven league games to play, he might have called you crazy.

Pasco (2-11, 2-5) lost post player Claudia Olguin and point guard Makayla Guice to knee injuries before the season was even underway.

The Bulldogs, featuring a very young squad, then went out and got hammered in their first few games against Class 4A schools Walla Walla, Moses Lake and Chiawana.

"We are feeling confident," Barcot said. "We are by no means a contending team, but we have started to jell and started to compete."

While Pasco won't be winning a league title this season, making the playoffs would be a step in the right direction, and the Bulldogs will have a chance to move toward that goal at 5:45 p.m. today at Kennewick.

Pasco, Kennewick and Southridge are tied for fifth place, and the top six teams advance to the playoffs.

Senior Yessica Diaz has been a driving force behind the play of the Bulldogs, as the senior is averaging 14.2 points per game this season.

"That is something brand new. It came out of nowhere," Barcot said of Diaz's scoring. "She just got tired of us getting beat up all the time, and she understood she had to somehow step up and be a leader."

Diaz has scored 20 or more points in each of the last four CBBN 3A games for Pasco.

"We always knew she could shoot," Barcot said, "but this came as a surprise."