Sophomore Myzhanique Ladd's 17 points helped Cleveland overcome 20 second-half turnovers to reach the quarterfinals with a 46-41 win over No. 3 Wilson.
PUYALLUP — The young Cleveland High School girls basketball team is moving on. At this point, how the Eagles did it is unimportant.
Myzhanique Ladd supplied 17 points as Cleveland overcame 20 second-half turnovers to advance to the state quarterfinals with a 46-41 win over No. 3 Wilson in Saturday’s Class 3A regional at Rogers High School.
The Eagles (20-6) have just one player — Olivia Smith — who was on the school’s 2010 Class 3A state-title team. Despite lacking a finishing kick and some poise, they’re headed back to the Tacoma Dome.
“That (state title) is old news and that’s a team that isn’t here anymore,” said coach Stephenie Wheeler-Smith, whose team blew all but one point of a 14-point lead in the second half. “That title really isn’t our focus. That’s over. This team is trying to figure out how they can play together and win together. They are very young.
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“They are going up and down in their composure battle. It’s just a process of learning on the fly.”
Somehow, the Eagles made enough plays and free throws — 15 of 25 — to cling to victory against Wilson. Cleveland overcame 24 turnovers and 27-percent shooting (13 of 48). They had one field goal in the final 4:56.
“I knew we’d have some turnovers, because that’s just what you give away when you play the way we play,” Wheeler-Smith said. “I didn’t intend on us having that many in the second half, particularly the third quarter. I’m still proud of the way they stuck together and fought.”
Ladd, a sophomore point guard, also had eight rebounds, five steals and three assists, and Cleveland hit 4 of 8 free throws in the final 48.4 seconds.
It was 44-41 when Wilson’s Kaysha Fox sank two free throws with 22 seconds left. Makayla Roper, a sophomore who added nine points, hit 1 of 2 free throws with 15.5 showing and Joyce Harrell added 1 of 2 with five seconds to go.
Cleveland is already one step farther this season after losing in the Round of 16 last year.
“We had some good defense and key rebounds down the stretch,” Wheeler-Smith said. “We had a lot of hustle plays. We had a rough district run, and we lost a little confidence. We kept fighting. We just have to be positive.”
Wilson (20-4) endured a costly scoreless stretch of 7 minutes, 24 seconds in the first half. Dejah Rogers’ layin 4:07 before halftime ended the drought.
During that stretch, Cleveland built a 14-point lead at 24-10. The Eagles’ lead was 25-14 at intermission as Roper, Carsen Stanley and Jayde Christopher all made second-quarter three-pointers.
Brionna Hart grabbed seven rebounds for Cleveland.
There will be a draw on Sunday to determine first-round matchups for state, which begins Thursday in the Tacoma Dome.
Tia Briggs and Dejah Rogers led Wilson with 11 points apiece. Leading scorer Bethany Montgomery (15 points per game) was limited to four.
Prairie 65, Juanita 28
The backcourt duo of Jackie Lanz (18) and Megan Lindsley (16) combined for 34 points as the top-ranked Falcons (24-1) moved within two victories of the school’s 12th appearance in a state-title game. It was Prairie’s 24th consecutive win.
The Rebels (21-6) played without leading scorer Kate Cryderman (17.2 ppg) after she suffered a high ankle sprain in practice last Tuesday. The 6-foot Cryderman, the school’s career scoring leader and KingCo 3A/2A Player of the Year, sat on the bench in street clothes.
Juanita fell behind 17-4 in the first five minutes, thanks to a rash of turnovers.
“We knew that our chances went down a big bunch without Kate,” Rebels coach Sam Lee said of Cryderman, who also averages eight rebounds and three blocks. “You didn’t see much about (not having Cryderman) until today. When we got ready to get on the bus today, I knew we were in for a long evening.
“I don’t mind losing to a great team, and they’re a great team.”
Lee said Cryderman will have her right foot in a boot for six to eight weeks.