Playing together and for each other is part of the deal, said Lake Washington senior guard Jen Estes.
The Kangs have been doing that all season and that game plan took center stage in a loser-out 3A state girls basketball contest on Wednesday at the Tacoma Dome. Sixth-seeded Lake Washington (20-6) defeated 14th-seeded Hudson’s Bay (20-8), 57-40, and will next take on fourth-seeded Mount Spokane (19-3) at 3:45 p.m. Thursday for a spot in the semifinals.
“We knew we had to come out and set a tone, especially from the beginning and not let up as we went on and just play as a team,” said Estes, who tallied five of her 10 points at the start. “All of us were super excited. We were happy that our shots were falling considering the different environment and just the court and everything.”
Junior guard Ellie Pederson had a hot hand with 14 points, including four 3-pointers, and junior guard Sophia Liesse notched three treys to contribute to her 11 points.
“I just felt comfortable out there,” Pederson said of her shooting prowess. “Obviously it’s a different environment, so we’re all trying to adjust to it. It’s very different because the floors are more bouncy and slippery. Once it finally sunk in, we were kind of unstoppable.”
After LW led 12-11 after one quarter, Hudson’s Bay took a brief lead before the Kangs rattled off eight straight points to go up 20-15 on an Elise Hani basket, a steal that resulted in an Estes field goal and free throw and a Liesse 3-pointer. Hudson’s Bay knotted the score at 20-20, but Liesse was unleashed and notched two treys and two free throws to give the Kangs a 28-20 lead at halftime.
After Estes scored the first points of the second half, Hudson’s Bay never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way. LW led 43-26 after three quarters and cruised through the fourth, which featured a pair of Pederson treys.
Sophomore guard Rosa Smith had nine points, including a trey to begin the scoring, and sophomore forward Elise Hani had eight points and eight rebounds.
Estes noted with a smile that most of the girls would say they were more excited than nervous in their first trip to the Tacoma Dome.
“We treated this like just another game and I think that really helped calm our nerves,” Liesse added. “It’s an honor to be here and to even make it this far.”
Liesse snagged a sportsmanship medallion at the completion of play and said that’s an important quality to possess and it demonstrates leadership.
Turning to the Mount Spokane matchup on Thursday, Pederson said the Kangs will focus on playing their game of boxing out and competing as a team.
“Obviously, they’re a crazy great team,” she said of Mount Spokane. “We’re just gonna come with the same mindset that we had today — instead of being nervous, we’re gonna be excited.”