TACOMA — The champs have earned at least another day to defend that championship.
Skyview sprinted out to a huge early lead and held off Gig Harbor in a loser-out game in the Class 4A bi-district girls basketball tournament Friday night, saving their season with a 55-41 victory.
The Storm, who won the state title last year, will face Bellarmine Prep on Saturday at Stadium High School in a winner-to-regional, loser-out game.
"No one wanted to go out," said junior Aubrey Ward-El, who led the Storm with 13 points and 16 rebounds. "No one expected us to get this far, so we might as well give it everything we had. We're so close to the end, we might as well give it everything we've got."
Stephanie McDonagh added seven points, eight steals, and five assists for the Storm.
"Defense is what drives our offense," McDonagh said. "That's what gets us going. We're not tall. We're not extremely fast. We're not the best shooters. But we work so hard on defense. A lot of people don't notice, but that's what gets us going."
It was all going Skyview's way early. The Storm jumped out to a 26-10 lead after the first quarter.
"We know we play a lot better when we play as a team," McDonagh said. "Everyone is a go-to player."
That showed in that first quarter. Seven Storm got into the game in that period, and all seven scored. H.J. Adams had two 3-pointers. Ward-El, Cassie Swartz, and Marissa Wellington also connected from long-range in the opening eight minutes.
Skyview pushed the lead to 21 by the half, holding Gig Harbor to one field goal in the second quarter.
The lead grew to as many as 26 in the third quarter before Gig Harbor scored the final 10 points of the period. The Tides kept it going in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 10 points with 2:26 to play.
Skyview might not have finished strong, but the Storm won this game early.
"I'll take it," Skyview coach Jennifer Buscher said.
Buscher told her players that at this point of the season, every opponent is going to be tough. She anticipated a Gig Harbor rally. Taylor Talen scored 11 of her 17 points in the second half for the Tides.
However, Skyview played so well early that the late push was never a big threat to the Storm.
The coach credited her leaders on the floor -- McDonagh and Ward-El.
"They just do so many things that have helped the team all season long," Buscher said. "That's why we are where we are."
Gen Lo and Neesen Bristow each scored nine points for the Storm. Bristow added 11 rebounds. Adams finished with eight points.
SKYVIEW 55, GIG HARBOR 41
GIG HARBOR — McKenzie Alton 6, Sammi Markham 1, Taylor Talen 17, Naphtali Ward 8, Katy Larson 5, Anne Gilbert 3, Kalen Keim 1, Tess Waage 0, Sydney Berholf 0, Ali Sommers 0, Rachel Sommers 0, Kristen Bullatt 0. Totals 12-48 (2-12) 15-21 41.
SKYVIEW — Stephanie McDonagh 7, Aubrey Ward-El 13, Gen Lo 9, Neesen Bristow 9, HJ Adams 8, Cassie Swartz 6, Marissa Wellington 3, Tianna Klutz 0, Totals 20-59 (6-20) 9-17 55.
Gig Harbor 10 6 11 14—41
Skyview 26 11 6 12—55