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Resilient Mark Morris girls secure state berth with 49-39 win over Woodland

Monarchs bounce back from poor showing to beat a familiar foe

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published: February 15, 2023, 10:23pm
9 Photos
Mark Morris seniors Brooklyn Schlect and Isabella Merzoian (25) pose with the third-place trophy after winning the 2A district girls basketball tournament winner-to-state game at Ridgefield High School on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023.
Mark Morris seniors Brooklyn Schlect and Isabella Merzoian (25) pose with the third-place trophy after winning the 2A district girls basketball tournament winner-to-state game at Ridgefield High School on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. (Tim Martinez/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

RIDGEFIELD — Monday went about a badly as it possible for the Mark Morris girls basketball team.

First, the Monarchs’ bus broke down on their way to a 2A district semifinal in Tumwater.

Then Mark Morris’ game plan broke down as the Monarchs were held to a season-low 13 points in a lopsided loss to W.F. West.

“Lesser teams that would have derailed you,” Mark Morris coach Sean Atkins said. “But this team is so resilient. All the seniors were well-traveled. We’ve seen a lot. We’ve won big. We’ve lost big. We’ve done it all.”

On Wednesday, there was one last thing for this class of seniors to do — earn a berth to the regional round of the state tournament.

Isabella Merzoian took an early charge, sparking the Monarchs defense en route to a 49-39 win over Woodland, locking up Mark Morris’ first trip to the state round of 16 since 2016.

“It’s so exciting,” Merzoian said. “I feel like we really earned it. It’s like a triumph.”

Merzoian put her body on the line Thursday, taking an early charge on defense.

“You talk about a tone setter,” Atkins said. “You’re leading scorer, best player stands there and gets run over and takes a huge charge. I feel like that’s what really set the tone defensively.”

Natalie Mejia scored the Monarchs’ first six points in the second quarter as Mark Morris opened a 16-7 lead.  Madi Noel and Merzoian added late 3-pointers, giving Mark Morris a 28-15 lead at halftime.

Woodland would get no closer than seven points the rest of the way as Mark Morris scored its third win over the Beavers this season.

“Sean really kind of described it well — he said we’re kind of mano-a-mano with them,” Merzoian said. “Woodland, we kind of joked that they are our BFFs (best friends forever). We play them like every week in summer league. We’re right down the road with them. So we knew what we were expecting coming into this.”

Senior Brooklyn Schlecht added: “We know them. It really just comes down to who is going to be more physical , the nitty gritty at that point between us.”

Merzoian, Mejia and Kea Makaiwi all scored 10 points to lead the Monarchs (16-7). Riley Stading had 12 and Emily Hughes added 10 for Woodland, which saw its season end at 17-7.

Mark Morris’ season goes on for at least one more week, a goal that Atkins said his players committed themselves to attaining after a season-ending loss to Hockinson in the district tournament last season.

Schlecht said the commitment goes back farther than that.

“Over the past four years honestly,” Schlecht said. “It’s not just this year for us. Us seniors have been working four years for this. …

“Honestly, it’s a little bittersweet. I love playing with this group the last four years. We’ve been playing since we were 6, 7 years old together. And I’m excited to ride this last season out like this.”

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MARK MORRIS 49, WOODLAND 39

MARK MORRIS (16-7) — Madi Noel 5, Mo Harris 0, Brooklyn Schlecht 6, Charlie Blain 8, Kea Makaiwi 10, Isabella Merzoian 10, Natalie Mejia 10. Totals 14 (5) 16-24 49.

WOODLAND (17-7) — Addi Stading 3, Sydney George 2, Lucy Sams 2, Kenzi Bunger 6, Riley Stading 12, Ella Lindsay 4, Emily Hughes 10. Totals 14 (3) 8-10 39.

M.Morris 10 18 8 13—49

Woodland 7 8 10 14—39

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