Girls basketball: Buzzer-beater lifts Skyview to state title

Ward-El buries 3-pointer with one second left

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter



TACOMA — The Skyview girls basketball players were sharing the trophy with one another.

They had pieces of the championship net.

They knew they had won.

Yet they were not exactly sure how to describe the sensation.

“Honestly, it feels unreal,” senior Brooke Bowen said.

Oh, it’s real.

The Skyview Storm are Class 4A state champions.

Aubrey Ward-El swished a 3-pointer with a second left in the game, capping a frantic rally in the final two minutes to give Skyview a 46-43 victory over Central Valley of Veradale in the 4A title game Saturday in the Tacoma Dome.

The Storm scored the final eight points to earn their program’s first state championship.

“I am so proud of them,” Bowen said of her teammates. “Beyond words. I can’t explain how proud of them I am.”

Bowen, who had 10 points in the final, was named the tournament’s most valuable player for her efforts in all three games at the dome.

But it was fitting for the Storm that so many others contributed during the tournament, and especially in the championship game. Skyview prides itself on not having one go-to player, but seven who can grab the spotlight at any time.

Jocelyn Adams went 8 for 9 from the floor to lead the Storm with 17 points. She also had a team-high 10 rebounds. And sophomores Stephanie McDonagh and Ward-El were each scoreless, until crunch time.

McDonagh tied the game at 43-43 with a put-back basket with 1:32 to play. Central Valley missed two shots to break the tie, sandwiching a Skyview miss, setting up the final 14 seconds.

After a timeout, McDonagh got the ball, drove the baseline and was looking to shoot when she spotted Ward-El open beyond the arc.

Ward-El, who had missed her 10 previous shots in the game, never hesitated. Shot up. Swish. Skyview bedlam.

“Once I saw Stephanie coming over, I knew no one was on me and I’d have to be the person to take the shot,” Ward-El said.

McDonagh knows how Ward-El feels. McDonagh made a 3-pointer with four seconds left to win Thursday’s quarterfinal game.

“It’s really cool to win two games in the tournament with game-winning shots,” Bowen said. “What are the odds of that?”

The odds were also against the Storm when they trailed 43-38 with less than two minutes to play. The Storm changed tactics, going with the press for the first time.

“We took a risk,” Skyview coach Jennifer Buscher said. “I knew we needed a momentum-changer. I knew we couldn’t do it the whole game, not after a three-day tournament. But at that point in time, I knew we needed to do something.”

The Storm immediately picked up two steals and tied the game.

Adams picked off a pass at midcourt, then went straight to the hoop. She made the shot, was fouled, then converted the three-point play with 1:44 remaining to make it 43-41.

Ward-El got a steal on Central’s next possession. She missed her contested layup, but McDonagh was there with the rebound and the basket to tie the game.

Ward-El was not the only struggling member of the team who found redemption. Senior Katie Swanson missed all five of her shots in the first half. Then she ruled a 10-2 spurt for the Storm in the third quarter, pushing Skyview to a 27-24 lead. She had six points and an assist in that span.

“I needed to focus on the things I could control,” Swanson said. “I just needed to play my game.”

Central Valley (25-3) ended the first quarter on a 10-0 run to go up by 10. Then it was Skyview’s turn to play defense, limiting the Bears to one field goal in the second quarter. Central led 18-15 at the half.

The Bears would take a two-point lead into the fourth quarter, pushing the advantage to five. But Central would go scoreless in the final three minutes of the game, giving Skyview time for its magical finish.

“It’s the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had,” Adams said. “I’m usually very calm, but today I was excited after the game. One of the most amazing things that has ever happened.”

By the end of all the interviews with the media, it was starting to sink in for the Storm.

“I’m still in shock a little bit, but we’re state champs,” Buscher said.


CENTRAL VALLEY (25-3) — Brooke Galloway 12, Madison Hovren 9, Katie Estey 6, Chantelle Fitting 6, Sydney Emory 5, Mariah Cunningham 5, McKenzi McDonald 0. Totals 16-48 (5-13) 6-7 43.

SKYVIEW (25-3) — Jocelyn Adams 17, Brooke Bowen 10, Katie Swanson 6, Delaney Keser 5, Aubrey Ward-El 3, Larissa Hamilton 3, Stephanie McDonagh 2, HJ Adams 0. Totals 20-57 (3-14) 3-6 46.

Central Valley 15 3 13 12–43

Skyview 5 10 14 17–46


First Team

MVP: Brooke Bowen, Skyview Brooke Gallaway, Central Valley; Brittany McPhee, Mount Rainier; Ali Forde, Woodinville; Jocelyn Adams, Skyview.

Second Team

Madison Hovren, Central Valley; Kelli Kingma, Jackson; Kendra Morrison, Eastlake; Madison Wright, Gonzaga Prep; Sierra Anderson, Jackson.