Lake Washington’s girls basketball team possessed a hunger to win, said a smiling Elise Hani after the Kangs’ exhilarating matchup with Mt. Spokane on Thursday.
About 20 minutes earlier, the Kangs knocked off the Wildcats, 48-45, in a quarterfinal thriller at the 3A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome. Hani’s double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds helped lead her squad (21-6) into the semifinals against top-seeded Eastside Catholic (28-1) at 7:15 p.m. on Friday.
The game went down to the final play with Mt. Spokane missing a 3-point attempt that set off a raucous Kang celebration on the court.
Hani said she was a little nervous before game time because she wasn’t sure how the matchup against fourth-seeded Mt. Spokane (19-4) would affect the sixth-seeded Kangs’ mentality.
“That first possession, I kind of felt the energy on the court. We’re here to play and this is our game,” she said. “Never once, even when they went on a nine-point run or towards the end when we were up by one for two minutes, there was never a period of time where I would look around and see everyone had fear in their eyes.”
Confidence was in their corner and Hani is looking forward to seeing where the Kangs go from here.
LW led 23-17 at halftime and a Sophia Liesse 3-pointer gave the Kangs a 28-20 lead, but Mt. Spokane rallied and took a 29-28 lead with 4:11 left in the third quarter. From there, the teams battled it out until the very end. There were flurries of points, blocks, rebounds and steals that had the crowd enthralled and unleashing screams galore.
Kang Rosa Smith tallied a game-high 16 points to go along with nine rebounds and exited the court shaking her head at what her team had just accomplished.
“It’s hard to put into words right now, I’m just so proud of us and proud of our confidence and playing as a team,” Smith said. “We just locked in that whole game and played really great team ball. I think our defense was just clutch the whole game.”
LW gave 100 percent effort in going for every loose ball and every rebound, Smith added.
Head coach Jeff Wilson looked just as drained as the Kang girls afterward and noted that it was an amazing game against who they thought was the best team in the state all season.
“They played a great game tonight and we just matched their intensity from the first minute. Our girls weren’t afraid of the moment, they were ready to take them on,” Wilson said. “We’ve played great defense all year and we just played one of our best defensive games we’ve ever played.”