The Washougal girls basketball team is still alive in the 2A District 4 tournament, but its journey got a whole lot more challenging on Feb. 17.
W.F. West (17-5) arrived in Woodland ready to play and handed the Panthers (19-3) a 43-33 loss in a tournament semifinal game.
Washougal will now have to win two consecutive consolation games to clinch a berth to the state regional round. The Panthers’ season will end with one more district tournament loss.
“Every game is loser-out now,” said Washougal coach Britney Ervin.
The Panthers played R.A. Long (11-11) on Wednesday, Feb. 19 in Woodland. The Lumberjacks earned their way with a 31-30 upset win over Columbia River on Feb. 17. Washougal beat R.A. Long 69-46 on Jan. 20 and 50-38 in the last game of the regular season Feb. 10.
“We can still make it to state,” said Washougal junior Skylar Bea. “We just really have to get after it in the next games.”
Deja vu for Panthers
The Feb. 17 game felt like deja vu for the Panthers and their fans. In its first game of the season on Dec. 5, Washougal lost to W.F. West 52-28 in Chehalis, one of two losses in the regular season for the Panthers. Washougal, which entered the rematch with a 17-game winning streak, struggled against the Bearcats’ defense, which pressured the Panthers throughout the game. W.F. West forced numerous turnovers that helped it jump out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter.
“That is kind of new for us,” Ervin said. “They were just playing those passing lanes so well and they were so wide and so aggressive at anticipating passes. That was a different defense than our girls have seen all year.”
Washougal struggled to make shots, missing 18 of its 23 attempts in the first half, and trailed 28-13 at halftime. The Panthers made a comeback in the second half behind tough inside play from Bea, who led Washougal with 13 points and four blocks.
The Bearcats’ 14-point lead was cut to six with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Panthers were forced to foul and W.F. West made several free throws to clinch the win.
Panthers open postseason with home victory
The Panthers opened district tournament play at home with a 56-42 win over Hockinson on Feb. 14.
The game was much closer than Washougal’s previous two games this season against the Hawks, who lost both contests by 26 points. However, the postseason clash was a different story as the game remained close until late in the final quarter, when sophomore Savea Mansfield scored a flurry of fast-break points to seal the Panthers’ victory.
“I feel we were not really communicating well the first half, and in the second half we came together and started celebrating and communicating with each other when we did good things,” Mansfield said.