TACOMA — The quest for a state championship ended Thursday for the Skyview girls basketball team, missed shots leading to a missed opportunity.
Was it state tournament nerves?
The Tacoma Dome’s bizarre backdrop that often causes trouble for shooters?
Or the other team’s defense?
“Probably a combination of all three,” Skyview coach Jennifer Buscher said.
Whatever it was, it led to a shooting display that the Storm would love to forget.
Hannah Caudill scored 15 points and Laura Stockton had an answer for anything Skyview tried to do, leading Gonzaga Prep of Spokane to a 53-45 victory in an elite eight matchup at the Class 4A state tournament. The Bullpups will face Lynnwood in the semifinals Friday afternoon.
Skyview (24-3) was 6 of 33 from the floor in the first half (18 percent) and finished 16 of 60 in its lowest scoring game of the season. The Storm (24-3) will face Kentwood at 9 a.m. Friday in the consolation bracket.
Buscher looked at the game’s stat sheet, almost in disbelief.
“I don’t remember the last time we had a single-digit scoring quarter,” she said.
The Storm had three of those on Thursday.
“We knew we were struggling offensively. At halftime we said, ‘Settle down. Settle into your game.’ We didn’t settle in until the last five minutes of the fourth quarter,” Buscher said.
That just might haunt Skyview, too. Even with that shooting display, the Storm had their chances against the Bullpups. An 8-0 run in the fourth quarter made it a six-point game. Stephanie McDonagh scored six in a row with a three-point play and a 3-pointer. Seconds later, Jocelyn Adams made two free throws to make it 48-42 with 2:53 to play.
Skyview then played 29 seconds of strong defense and forced a jump ball. The possession belonging to Gonzaga Prep, the Bullpups had a second on the shot clock when they inbounded the ball. They got an easy lay-up from Stockton to regain the momentum.
Buscher said it was uncharacteristic of her team to give up such a shot.
Skyview never recovered.
Stockton, daughter of former NBA great John Stockton, scored six in a row in the third quarter, helping the Bullpups to a 14-point lead. She finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
The Storm were 2 of 17 in the first quarter but still led 9-7 at the horn, going 5 for 6 from the line and forcing six turnovers. The Bullpups adjusted to Skyview’s defense and took the lead for good early in the second quarter.
Adams kept Skyview in the game in the first half. She had 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting. The rest of the team was 2 of 23 from the floor.
“We looked tired. No excuse for that,” Buscher said. “I thought we had a great week of practice.”
Adams finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Aubrey Ward-El shook off a rough first half, scoring 12 of her 15 in the second half for the Storm.
“We never gave up,” Adams said. “Everyone was fighting until the end, hoping to pull it out. It didn’t happen, but no one gave up. Our shots weren’t falling. Theirs were.”
Losing the chance at a state championship was tough on the Storm, but they wrapped up a post-game team huddle with a cheer, looking forward to what they can still accomplish in this tournament.
“I’m proud of them,” Buscher said. “We made it to the elite eight. And we’re not done yet. We still have an opportunity to take home a trophy to Clark County. We plan on doing that.”
Friday’s winner will earn a trophy, playing for fourth place Saturday.
“On to the next one,” Adams said. “That’s what we’re going to focus on. We’re going to do our best to make it to Saturday.”
GONZAGA PREP 53, SKYVIEW 45
SKYVIEW — Hannahjoy Adams 0, Stephanie McDonagh 7, Jocelyn Adams 17, Aubrey Ward-El 15, Genevieve Lo 2, Sydney Friauf 4, Neesen Bristow 0, Kirsten Johnson 0. Totals: 16-60 (3-19) 10-12 45.
GONZAGA PREP — Oona Harrington 7, Lauren Wier 0, Shafalika Byrd 2, Laura Stockton 12, Kayla Leland 4, Hannah Caudill 15, Otiona Gildon 10, Wendy Gregory 3. Totals: 23-46 (5-11) 2-2 53.
Skyview 9 9 8 19—45
Gonzaga Prep 7 18 13 15—53