Girls basketball: Skyview rolls into 4A state final

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter



TACOMA — The Skyview Storm never know who is going to be their go-to player from game to game.

They just know they are going to the Class 4A girls basketball state championship game after knocking off Gonzaga Prep of Spokane 63-50 on Friday.

A day after being held scoreless, Delaney Keser buried four 3-pointers and scored 16 points.

A day after being down on the floor with a head injury, Larissa Hamilton returned to score eight points and six rebounds off the bench.

A day after struggling for much of her team’s opener in the Tacoma Dome, Jocelyn Adams bounced back with 12 points, six rebounds, and five assists.

“That’s what I absolutely love about this team. Any one of us can have an amazing game,” Keser said. “We all have the opportunity to make each other look good.”

Adams added: “I felt like I had to show up. If we wanted to get to the state championship, we all had to be there and help each other out.”

Skyview (24-3) will take on Central Valley of Veradale at 5 p.m. Saturday. It will be Skyview’s first appearance in the title game.

The Storm got there with a start-to-finish victory over Gonzaga Prep (19-6).

While it was close for much of the contest, Skyview never trailed after jumping out to a 7-0 lead. There was no defining run in the middle of the game nor a need for a last-second shot. It was just Skyview in control.

Keser was 4 of 6 from 3-point range, but her biggest shot came with a 16-foot jumper off the dribble with a minute to play in the third quarter. The Storm had seen their 14-point lead fall to five points before Keser made it 47-40.

“We were struggling to get the ball up the floor,” Keser said. “One basket can change a whole game and get the momentum going.”

The Bullpups would get the deficit to three early in the fourth quarter, but Skyview’s Katie Swanson made two free throws — the Storm were 12 of 14 from the line — and Hamilton came up with an offensive rebound and a put-back basket for a 51-44 advantage with six minutes to play.

Hamilton, a junior, hit her head on the court in Thursday’s win over Federal Way and did not return to the game. She was back in her role for Friday’s matchup, though.

“My head’s fine. It was a little shocking yesterday, but I’m fine,” Hamilton said. “I’m not missing out on this state tournament. Just the fact that I’m on a great team like this, and this is the last time we’ll be this team, inspired me.”

Stephanie McDonagh, Thursday’s hero with her 3-pointer to win the game, had six points and six assists in Friday’s victory.

Brooke Bowen had seven points and eight rebounds. She went down hard on her hip late in the game, but she returned a few minutes later. She said it is sore but she expects to play Saturday.

Aubrey Ward-El matched Hamilton with her eight points off the bench.

“I’ve been saying this all season long. It can be any of our seven (in the main rotation),” Skyview coach Jennifer Buscher said. “This was the epitome of a team win.”

It was historic, too, getting the Storm into a championship game. But that was not on their minds Friday.

“We play. We eat. We get them to bed, and then we break down film of our next opponent,” Buscher said. “After (Saturday’s) game, I’ll reflect on the history of it all.”

The players are concentrating on present-day events, as well.

“Honestly, when we were playing the game, we were thinking of getting to the championship game. But it wasn’t a selfish thing,” Hamilton said. “It was for our team. We want to do this for our seniors, for our teammates. We are focused on everyone, and our coaches, too.”

That’s how the Storm made it to the title game, all of the them together.


GONZAGA PREP (19-6) — Madison Wright 13, Hannah Caudill 8, Lindsay Stockton 7, Megan Steilen 6, Cassie Anderson 6, Otiona Gildon 4, Sarah Barnes 4, Laura Stockton 2, Jazmine Brown 0. Totals 22-54 (1-10) 5-8 50.

SKYVIEW (24-3) — Delaney Keser 16, Jocelyn Adams 12, Aubrey Ward-El 8, Larissa Hamilton 8, Brooke Bowen 7, Stephanie McDonagh 6, Katie Swanson 6, Katie Hendricks 0. Totals 23-46 (5-13) 12-14 63.

Gonzaga Prep 12 9 21 8–50

Skyview 14 14 19 16–63

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