Brooke Bowen was nearly perfect Wednesday night, representative of a pretty-darn-close-to-perfect performance by all of the Skyview Storm.
Bowen just missed a triple-double with 21 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds, leading the Storm to an 81-51 victory over Olympia in the opener of the Class 4A bi-district girls basketball tournament.
The Storm recorded 23 assists in all and shot 59 percent from the floor — a significant number in any game, let alone a playoff contest.
“I’m just really proud of how hard everyone was working tonight,” said Bowen, a senior. “We work hard every night, but we worked extra hard tonight. We were really calm and really settled out there. Being relaxed really helped us a lot.”
The Storm hope to have a similar performance Friday in the bi-district quarterfinals. Skyview (19-2) will take on Mount Rainier at 6 p.m. at Rogers High School in Puyallup. The winner will advance to the semis and also secure a berth to the regionals.
Moving on from this point of the season has been an issue for the Storm. They have won the past four Class 4A Greater St. Helens League titles but have not advanced past bi-district in any of those seasons.
“We’re so close. We can taste it,” said sophomore Aubrey Ward-El, who came off the bench and scored 15 points for the Storm. “The seniors want it so bad. All of us younger players want it really bad for them. They’ve worked hard for it.”
“We still got work to do to get to where we want to be,” Skyview coach Jennifer Buscher said.
She likes her team’s chances, though. If Skyview should stumble Friday, the Storm would have another shot to get to regionals on Saturday.
“I’m confident with this group of kids,” Buscher said. “I wouldn’t want to go to battle with any other girls. They’re competitive. They’re hard working. They’re a joy to be around.”
It is even more for the Storm when they win big — and how they go about winning big. That team thing was in form Wednesday
Katie Swanson (13 points) and Jocelyn Adams (10) each went 5 for 6 from the floor. Bowen ended up 9 for 13, including 3 for 4 from 3-point range. Ward-El also made three 3-pointers. Stephanie McDonagh made all three of her shots in the first quarter and had seven quick points to set the pace. Delaney Keser had eight points, five assists, and four steals.
On and on it went, with Bowen doing a bit of everything.
She picked up her 10th assist early in the fourth quarter and played about four more minutes needing two rebounds from the triple-double. She had no idea, though.
“Dang it! That was so close,” she said when told of her stat line. “I felt like I was in the zone out there. It’s exciting. It makes me happy.”
No one was happier for Bowen than her coach.
“She just has extreme passion for the game of basketball,” Buscher said. “Her work ethic is second to none. For her to have a night like this, I’m just excited for her. She deserves it.”
Ward-El missed the penultimate game of the regular season and played sparingly in the final contest because of a bum ankle. She said she is “89 percent” and was thrilled with the opportunity to get more minutes in playoff time.
“I felt like I was letting the team down. You need everyone on the team to be there,” she said. “I was happy to be back and come back strong.”
Bowen buried a 3-pointer just six seconds into the game to start what turned into a rout. McDonagh’s 3-pointer made it 8-1 and Skyview never trailed in this one.
The Bears stayed close for a quarter, trailing by five.
Adams scored the first four points of the second quarter and the Storm took off from there. Skyview scored 48 points in the middle periods, making 21 of 31 shots (68 percent) during that stretch.
Add it up, and statistically speaking, it was all Skyview.