Lake Washington head coach Jeff Wilson smacked his hands together and hopped backward on one foot before the game started: “Final four!” he exclaimed to his assistant coaches.
Wilson’s hands must be sore if he repeated the scenario after the Kangs (22-6) defeated top-seeded Eastside Catholic, 62-49, in the 3A state semifinals on Friday night at the Tacoma Dome. With the monumental win over the 28-2 Crusaders, sixth-seeded LW will take on ninth-seeded Garfield (22-7) at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Dome for the state championship.
Eastside Catholic bolted out to an 8-0 lead, but LW answered with an 11-0 run, which was capped by field goals from Jen Estes and Sophia Liesse with 3:31 left in the first quarter. By quarter’s end, LW owned a 25-17 lead with 10 points from Liesse, who finished with 22 points.
LW held the lead throughout the remainder of the game, although Eastside Catholic fought back and came within two points on several occasions. LW played another solid defensive game and brought tons of energy to the court to notch its third consecutive win at the Dome.
“I was feeling pretty good, a few shots were off but I had to keep going,” said Liesse, who had four 3-pointers. “We knew that we had to keep pushing because they’re a team that can come back in the fourth quarter.”
“We knew that they were gonna play really quick, so we had to get back and hustle on defense,” said Estes, who tallied seven points and nine rebounds. Rosa Smith amassed 13 points.
Estes will be shooting for her second state title during her senior year to go along with a soccer championship in the fall.
“I didn’t think I’d get to be part of something this special and it’s just such an amazing opportunity to play here at the Tacoma Dome,” she said. “I think all of us are super excited for the opportunity to play in the state championship tomorrow.”
Liesse said that the Kangs need to rebound in the key and not let Garfield get second shots in order to succeed in the final.
As Wilson discussed the game with people nearby, Liesse smiled when thinking about her coach.
“He brings so much energy to the team. He probably brings more energy than some of our players. He’s the most supportive coach you’ll ever have,” she said.
*Two pairs of Kirkland sisters were part of the semifinal game: Elise and Sydney Hani of LW, and the Kangs’ Hannah Sitterud and her sister Amelie of Eastside Catholic. Hannah tallied a field goal during the second quarter.