By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer
YAKIMA — Mason Oberg was the last to exit the Washougal girls basketball team’s room after its 58-55 loss to Burlington-Edison, and in doing so, she quickly was on the hunt for ice.
In no way was Oberg, the Panthers’ point guard, leaving Thursday’s Class 2A state quarterfinal game. Not even after hearing — and feeling — her right ankle pop when a Tigers player inadvertently stepped on Oberg, forcing the ankle to roll. And not even when her team trailed by 14 in the second half to get a quick breather.
“No way,” she matter-of-factly said.
Playing on one good foot the majority of Thursday’s game at the Yakima Valley SunDome, the ninth grader scored a game-high 25 points in 32 minutes. Fifteen points came in the second half and helped orchestrate the Panthers’ comeback that ultimately fell short.
The loss drops Washougal (17-7) into Friday’s 12:15 p.m. loser-out game against Wapato, which lost to Black Hills, 55-38, in another Thursday quarterfinal. The Washougal-Wapato winner is guaranteed a state trophy Saturday.
Washougal was unable to convert on its final two possessions for the game-winning and game-tying shots. But Panthers wouldn’t have been in that position if it weren’t for Oberg, especially the the final eight minutes.
Her pair of fourth-quarter triples gave Washougal its first lead since 7-6 and tied it up 53-53 with 2:02 to play after her team trailed 36-22 at the midway point of the third quarter.
On the flip side, it was the Tigers’ hot outside shooting that led B-E to take sizable leads. It used a 16-2 run after falling behind 7-0 early to take a 16-9 lead in the first quarter. Its largest was 14 points at the 5-minute mark of the third, before Washougal roared back.
Coach Brian Oberg called the first half from his squad “lethargic” on both ends of the floor.
“If you’re not playing good defense,” he said, “it leads to not being really aggressive on offense.”
That quickly changed.
It pulled within four to begin the fourth quarter behind seven points from Beyonce Bea (she finished with 14) and another five from Mason Oberg. Her fourth 3 of the game made it a 48-44 Washougal lead to finish 4 of 6 from 3-point range and 9 of 20 shooting for the game. She also had five assists.
Whether it was 3s, dribble drive and kick, or putbacks, Washougal found its spark.
“That’s when everyone was hyped up again,” Mason Oberg said.
Just like Coach Oberg knew it could happen, Burlington-Edison wasn’t done. Brandy Smith (team-best 21 points) scored seven straight Tiger points, and eventually, made B-E’s lead at 56-55. As a team, the Tigers went 8 of 25 behind the arc.
Washougal’s best shot at the game-winning bucket came with 12.3 seconds left trailing by one, but Oberg tripped up and was whistled for traveling.
Oberg said afterward her ankle was sore, but noted she’ll be OK for Friday’s consolation game. Washougal is seeking its second-straight trophy after a fourth-place finish in 2016.
“We have to come out prepared and not do what we did (Thursday),” she said. “Hopefully, we can win.”