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District 3-4 Girls Basketball: Skyview clinches state berth, Union loses thriller

Storm beat Kentwood 53-50 for first trip to state since 2016

By Micah Rice, Columbian Sports Editor
Published: February 15, 2024, 9:37pm
2 Photos
Kiera Parks (15) and the Skyview girls basketball team stand for the national anthem before a District 3-4 tournament game against Kentwood on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024 at Stadium High School in Tacoma.
Kiera Parks (15) and the Skyview girls basketball team stand for the national anthem before a District 3-4 tournament game against Kentwood on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024 at Stadium High School in Tacoma. (Micah Rice/The Columbian). Photo Gallery

TACOMA – Three close games, three victories and a first state tournament berth in eight years.

That is Skyview’s story in the District 3-4 girls basketball tournament.

Skyview beat Kentwood 53-50 on Thursday to clinch a spot in the regional round of the Class 4A state tournament.

The Storm’s victory at Stadium High School came after the Greater St. Helens League’s No. 3 seed survived two loser-out games.

Skyview opened the tournament with a 47-45 win over Puyallup before beating Bethel 48-43 to set up Thursday’s game for one of the tournament’s seven state berths.

A team that was once 6-5 has now won six of its last seven games.

“I just got done telling them in the locker room that they have the things us coaches can’t teach,” Skyview coach Jacob Kaler said. “It’s just built inside them. They’re resilient. It’s that next-play mentality. They focus on what they can control.”

That poise saw Skyview not blink when Kentwood (17-8) clawed back from a 39-30 hole late in the third quarter.

When Kentwood took its first lead at 47-46 with 3:08 to play, the Storm immediately answered as Cameron Watson scored two of her team-high 17 points.

After Kentwood tied the game at 50 on a 3-pointer, Kiera Parks drew a foul on a 3-point attempt. The senior rose above the pressure, hitting all three free throws for the game’s final points with 1:34 to play.

“When our backs are against the wall, they’re throwing the next punch and we’re ready to respond,” Kaler said. “It’s a testament to who they are as people. They’re focused, hard-working and fun to be a part of.”

Skyview clamped down on defense in the final minute. Kentwood had three possessions but all came up empty, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Parks, who had 13 points, said her team’s confidence and poise never wavered.

“I think we just feed off each other,” Parks said. “We see each other being calm and say, we got this. There’s no reason we should feel down or frantic.”

One of the team’s four seniors, Parks wiped tears from her eyes after the final buzzer. Earlier, she let out a yell when she banked in a 3-pointer to blunt Kentwood’s rally in the third quarter.

“You could see the excitement on her face and our bench just erupted,” senior Sam Groesbeck said. “The entire energy was up after that.”

Groesbeck scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Earning the program’s first state berth since 2016 is a feat her class with cherish.

“This is such a great group of girls,” Groesbeck said. “I’m just glad I get to go to state with them.”

EMERALD RIDGE 70, UNION 69 – Brooklynn Haywood scored 42 points but the Titans came up narrowly short in a winner-to-state game at Stadium High.

Union now faces a winner-to-state, loser-out game Saturday against Kentwood at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.

Haywood made 10 3-pointers, including one that put the Titans ahead 69-64 with less than two minutes to play.

But Naleila Cammack made two 3-pointers in the final minute, including one that put Emerald Ridge ahead with 22.4 seconds left.

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After a costly turnover, the Titans got a final chance when Emerald Ridge missed both free throws with 8.2 seconds left. But Union couldn’t get up a shot on its final possession.

Ava Smith added 19 points for Union (19-5).

North Puget Sound League champion Emerald Ridge (18-7) had four players in double figures, led by 18 points from Semaj Williams.

Haywood started hot with 16 points in the first quarter, including four 3-pointers. Union led 13-2 before Emerald Ridge fought back, thanks to three 3-pointers from Williams.

After a close second quarter, Union again built a lead in the third quarter, taking a 49-41 lead on back-to-back Haywood 3-pointers. But Emerald Ridge stayed within striking distance and took advantage of untimely Union turnovers down the stretch.