The Lake Washington girls basketball team lost 55-41 to the Garfield Bulldogs in the 3A state championship game, but the Kangs walked out of the Tacoma Dome on March 7 with their heads held high.
Lake Washington head coach Jeff Wilson said he couldn’t be more proud of the way the team played all tournament.
“Upsetting Mt. Spokane, upsetting Eastside Catholic. We’re just so proud of them for getting to this moment,” Wilson said. “They’ll never forget moments like this.”
Wilson said the team has shown great belief all season long and that it was evident during the state tournament.
“We believed all season. We told it to them and preached it to them, that they can play with anybody,” Wilson said. “All year they got better, they learned from their losses and learned how to grow together, and in this tournament it showed.”
In the loss to the Bulldogs, the Kangs were led by sophomore guard Rosa Smith who had a team-high 17 points.
After a slow start for both teams offensively in the first quarter of the championship game, the two teams started to get going in the second quarter. After an evenly matched eight minutes of basketball, the Bulldogs took a 23-20 lead into halftime.
In the second half, Garfield pulled away thanks to a 9-0 run midway through the third quarter to put the Bulldogs up 35-22. In the fourth quarter, Garfield took its largest lead of the game 51-30 with 6:06 left in the game. The Kangs continued to fight for the rest of the game, ultimately falling 55-41.
Senior guard Jen Estes said she was proud of the way they kept battling, even when they were facing a large deficit.
“We really were working hard throughout the game and never quit,” Estes said. “I’m super proud of my team and happy that we never gave up.”
Garfield played a strong defensive game, forcing 17 turnovers.
“They’re a great defensive team,” Wilson said. “At the end of the day, we missed some shots that I think we normally make, and that’s basketball sometimes.”
Estes said that even though they didn’t get the result they wanted in the championship game, the team has every reason to be happy about their play.
“Being able to say we were the runner-up for the state championship is still amazing,” Estes said. “Everyone on the team fought super hard today and through the whole season. I’m super happy to be a part of this team.”
Wilson said that it will be impossible to replace what their two seniors, Estes and forward Hannah Sitterud, brought to the team.
“It’s hard to put into words what they do for us on and off the court,” Wilson said. “They’re great leaders.”
The Kangs had a talented, young team this season and Wilson said this tournament run will be a great learning experience for them.
“They’re going to learn from it and build off it and they’re going to want to be back here so much next year,” Wilson said.
Wilson was the all-3A girls coach of the tournament and Smith and Sophia Liesse were first-teamers.