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Eatonville has final answer in back-and-forth, 40-36 win over Seton Catholic in 1A girls basketball State Opening Round

Cruisers claim rematch over Cougars in game that included 18 lead changes

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: February 23, 2024, 11:19pm

BATTLE GROUND — Consider the chips on the shoulders of the Seton Catholic girls basketball team bigger now than they were before.

The Cougars’ postseason run came to a halt Friday with a 40-36 loss to Eatonville in the Class 1A State Opening Round at Battle Ground High School. Just like last season, the Cougars fell one win shy of reaching the Round of 12 at Yakima Valley SunDome.

Yet in the eyes of Seton Catholic coach Joe Potter, it wasn’t for a lack of heart or want. In fact, after a game that included 18 lead changes, Potter told his team in the locker room he believed the Cougars gave it everything they had.

“We got big hearts, and they’re broken hearts right now. … We talk about putting positive or negative chips on our shoulder to remind us how to work hard, and they all said, ‘Coach, it’s going right there,'” said Potter, pointing to his shoulder. “This loss is going to fuel us to start just getting better for next year.”

12 Photos
Eatonville junior Alayna Meyer (1) loses the ball against Seton Catholic senior Alyssa Mancuso, right, on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, during Seton’s 40-36 loss to Eatonville in the 1A Opening Round of the state playoffs at Battle Ground High School.
1A Girls Opening Round: Seton Catholic vs. Eatonville Photo Gallery

For a low-scoring game between two teams that faced off just two weeks ago in the 1A District 4 playoffs, a 65-55 win for Seton, nearly every basket in Friday’s rematch felt extra valuable.

The No. 12 seed Cougars took a 33-30 lead to the fourth quarter following a pair of scores from Riley Seymer and Tiffany Sheldon inside the final minute of the third.

After Eatonville’s Bailey Andersen hit a game-tying 3-pointer to start the fourth, both teams went cold for several minutes.

Seton Catholic’s Madison Lee, who led the Cougars with 12 points, hit a go-ahead 3 to give her team a 36-35 lead with three-and-a-half minutes left. Ultimately, those were the only points Seton scored in the final quarter.

Andersen reclaimed the lead for No. 13 Eatonville (16-5) with a go-ahead layup, then added two free throws at the 40-second mark to put the Cruisers ahead 39-36. Seton Catholic (18-6) missed two game-tying 3-point attempts then turned the ball over. Andersen, the Cruisers’ top scorer with 20 points, iced the game with a made free throw.

“Playoff basketball, it’s one possession. One bounce and one possession, and I know we had not a very good fourth quarter shooting-wise and turnover-wise,” Potter said.

The loss stung for Seton Catholic players and coaches, but they also took pride in the season they put together.

The Cougars won 16 straight games between December and the first week of February, repeated as Trico League champions and returned to state after graduating an impactful senior class led by Anna Mooney, Keira Williams and Hannah Jo Hammerstrom.

Any thought of Seton taking a step back without them this season was quickly put to rest by a group led by eight sophomores, junior Hailey Hammerstrom and seniors Alyssa Mancuso and Kasey Clifton, who suffered a season-ending knee injury just three games into the season.

“We can’t forget that we had a tremendous season that nobody really expected,” Potter said.

EATONVILLE 40, SETON CATHOLIC 36

EATONVILLE — Alayna Meyer 2, Kyleigh Backlund 0, Hailey Hall 5, Sadie Mettler 0, Lillian Bickford 4, Sara Smith 3, Ryan Stammen 4, Bailey Andersen 20. Totals 14 (2) 10-23 40.

SETON CATHOLIC — Madison Lee 12, Kingsley Williams 0, CJ Moore 2, Aly Ordona 0, Remy Jenniges 4, Alyssa Mancuso 2, Tiffany Sheldon 6, Hailey Hammerstrom 0, Riley Seymer 10. Totals 16 (2) 2-5 36.

Eatonville 8 14 8 10—40

Seton Catholic 12 9 12 3—36

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