The state champion defended its league title.
The Skyview girls basketball team, which started this season 3-6, has reeled off 10 wins in a row and on Thursday clinched the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League title.
Neesen Bristow called it the best game of her life. Stephanie McDonagh came back from a knee injury and had another clutch moment in a career of clutch moments. And the Storm held off a Union rally for a 59-52 win.
Skyview (13-6, 9-0 4A GSHL) will wrap up the regular season with a game against Heritage on Tuesday. The result will not matter. Union fell to 7-2 in league play, both losses to the Storm.
“No one thought anything of us coming into the season,” McDonagh said, referring to the fact that only two players in the main rotation last year are back this year. “We knew we had nothing to lose, so we just kept playing hard.”
“This means a lot because we’ve been rebuilding our team,” Bristow said. “We’ve come really far, and we worked together for this.”
Bristow finished with a career-high 19 points, making 8 of 9 from the floor. Her offensive rebound and reverse lay-up with 1:36 to play gave Skyview a 54-49 lead.
“I just had the ball, and I saw they were not on the other side (of the rim). I just went for it,” Bristow said. “I practice it a lot.”
Up until then, Union had answered just about every shot from Skyview in that fourth quarter. Not this time.
McDonagh, who finished with 15 points, got her sixth steal of the game to get Skyview back on offense. With the shot clock winding down, McDonagh drained a 3-pointer with just more than a minute to play for an eight-point lead.
“It was open. They passed me the ball, and I could hear all of my teammates yelling,” McDonagh said. “I could not think about all the other shots I missed. I had to just focus on that one.”
It was not as big as the game-winning 3-pointer in the state quarterfinals last year, but it did clinch the league title.
“I felt we didn’t need to score anymore after that,” McDonagh said. “We just had to hold them and run the clock down, and we did.”
Still, it was not perfect news for the Storm. McDonagh had ice on her left knee when she came out of the locker room. She injured her knee with 5:48 left in the third quarter. She returned to the game to open the fourth, but she said she will have the knee checked out by a doctor on Friday.
Skyview never trailed after Bristow converted the first of her two three-point plays in the first quarter, giving the Storm a 5-3 advantage.
“It just feels really good to be able to help this team,” said Bristow, a junior. “I’m doing it for them.”
Skyview would lead by as many as nine points in the second quarter and 10 in the third quarter, but the Titans were always within striking distance.
Jessica Chatman scored her team’s final six points of the third quarter to cut the deficit to six. Her basket with 3:14 left in the fourth quarter made it a two-point game at 49-47.
McDonagh answered with a 3-pointer, then Chatman connected on two free throws to make it 52-49 with two minutes to play. From there, Bristow and McDonagh made their plays to seal it for Skyview.
Chatman finished with a game-high 26 points on 11-of-21 shooting. She also had nine rebounds and three steals.
“Next Saturday,” Chatman said. “Hopefully we’ll get them next Saturday.”
That would be the district championship game that the Titans hope to advance to in order to face Skyview again.
Skyview coach Jennifer Buscher said she knows the Titans will be ready to compete again, but she also has confidence in her players.
“We just have leadership,” she said. “They have that will to win. They refuse to be stopped. We’re not the most talented team this year but they work extremely hard to make themselves better. The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
SKYVIEW 59, UNION 52
SKYVIEW — Stephanie McDonagh 15, Aubrey Ward-El 13, Cassie Swartz 0, Gen Lo 7, Neesen Bristow 19, Hannahjoy Adams 4, Marissa Wellington 1. Totals 23-57 (5-19) 8-18 59.
UNION — Grace Davis 0, Tessa Vanderpool 7, Tuileisu Anderson 10, Kendra Preuninger 7, Molly Petrie 2, Katie Burbank 0, Hannah O’Donnell 0, Katherine Williams 0, Jessica Chatman 26, Emily Rowe 0. Totals 20-46 (5-16) 7-9 52.
Skyview 18 13 9 19–59
Union 10 14 10 18–52
JV — Union won.