The Washougal High School girls basketball team won its second overtime game in four days to advance to the state tournament for the first time since 1983.
“It’s one giant stepping stone for this program,” said head coach Brian Oberg. “These players have been through this grind. The overtime games just showed their true grit.”
After Hockinson tied the score before the end of regulation Saturday, the Panthers shutout the Hawks 6-0 in overtime to win the game 57-51 and finish in third place in the district tournament.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” said senior Alyssa Blankenship. “We’re going to state. It’s a dream come true.”
“Nobody has lost that love or dedication for what we’re doing,” said senior RaeAnn Allen. “Coach said we haven’t hit our ceiling yet. We want to smash through it.”
Blankenship scored the first basket for Washougal in overtime. Beyonce Bea then completed a three-point play off a pass by RaeAnn Allen to provide some insurance.
Bea led the Panthers with 17 points Saturday, after scoring 33 in a 82-78 overtime victory against W.F. West Wednesday. Allen added 15 points Saturday, Blankenship netted 13, Maggie Hungerford had seven, Lindsey Thomas earned four and Kiara Cross finished with one.
“I’m playing to the best of my ability for these girls,” Bea said. “It feels nice to be there when my team needs me. I’ve been preparing for these high-pressure situations.”
The pressure was on Bea when Allen passed her the ball with the Panthers down by three against W.F. West. Bea made the basket from behind the 3-point line to force overtime.
“She looked at me like I was crazy,” Allen said. “She was taking the last shot. She’s had that composure all year, and she just drained it. I was so proud of her.”
Oberg watched the play unfold with a big smile on his face. A senior setting a freshman up perfectly.
“As soon as it left her fingers, I had a good feeling it was going in,” Oberg said.
Blankenship had already fouled out in the fourth quarter. Then, Allen fouled out at the beginning of overtime. Bea helped the Panthers grab the lead. Lindsey Thomas sealed it by sinking two shots from the foul line.
“Bea wanted the ball. She stepped up like she had been a senior her whole life,” Oberg said. “Lindsey didn’t get rattled. She just had that enternal calmness. She gave us a lift when we needed it.”
Allen and Blankenship looked at Bea with respect and envy. They are thrilled to play ball with her this year, they just wish they could be around for the next three years.
“Neither of us scored 33 as a freshman,” Allen said.
Washougal and Hockinson seemed destined to meet in the winner-to-state game again this season.
“Definitely deja vu. Same place, same team, same situation,” Allen said. “You couldn’t ask for a better stage or a better crowd. The whole town was behind us.”
Hockinson prevented the Panthers from making it to state a year ago. The Hawks also beat the Panthers by 11 points in Washougal this season.
“The true rivalry came against Hockinson for this senior group,” Oberg said. “We won the one we needed to win for them and for the program.”
Blankenship passed Kim (Rink) Daniels for second all-time at Washougal with 1,178 career points Saturday. Daniels was on the last Washougal team that went to state in 1983. She had 1,169 career points. And back then, the 3-point shot didn’t exist.
“It’s definitely an accomplishment that I’m proud of,” Blankenship said. “I think I know who’s going to be the one to break it,” she added as she looked at Bea.
Krissy Bassett is the all-time scoring leader for Washougal with 1,351 career points. After passing Daniels up, Bassett scored 181 points in her last eight games but the Panthers just missed the playoffs.
Blankenship’s had four playoff games to increase her point total. If Washougal (19-5) can win Saturday, the Panthers will get to play three more games at the Yakima Sun Dome.
“We need to win a couple more games, and get her up there,” Allen said.
The Panthers challenge White River (21-3), of Buckley, in a state regional playoff game Saturday, at Puyallup High School. Tip off is at 2 p.m.
White River is riding a 15-game winning streak. These girls did not lose a league game, and they haven’t lost in the playoffs.
“We played them in summer league. We have the athletes to compete with them,” Oberg said. “Whether you’re winning and going on to the dome, or you’re losing out, everything comes to an end at some point. I’m telling these girls to live in the moment. They will remember these days forever.”