TACOMA – The ascent continues for the Inglemoor girls basketball team.
And next season, the Vikings plan to finish at the top.
“I hope so,” Deja Strother said after leading a young squad to a best-ever fourth-place finish at the 4A state tournament Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. “I really hope so.”
The 6-foot-4 junior, who has committed to Washington, keyed the 39-36 victory over Skyview of Vancouver with 18 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
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“We didn’t have an answer for her,” Skyview coach Jennifer Buscher said.
Strother played the entire fourth quarter with four fouls and her best play of the day might have been her half-court inbounds pass from the baseline after the Storm had trimmed Inglemoor’s lead to 36-33 with less than a minute and a half to play. She hit a streaking Hannah McCausland in stride and McCausland delivered at the other end.
“The bomb? The touchdown?” coach John Augustavo said of the pass. “Every once in a while you’re going to get a team that’s in a little bit of a panic mode and you’re going to get that look. … To be honest, I was crossing my fingers that Hannah would knock it in. That was a big basket for us.”
The Vikings (23-4), who lost three key starters from last year’s sixth-place team, got big buckets from multiple sources – including their lone seniors, Brooklyn Walker and Chijoke Emeka. And they survived without sophomore point guard Mackenzie Gardner, who sat out the second half with a sore knee.
Skyview (25-4) finished sixth and got double-digit scoring from seniors Aubrey Ward-El (11), Jocelyn Adams (11) and Stephanie McDonagh (10). The Storm shot just 22.9 percent from the field and made only 10 of 27 free throws, but Buscher kept the big picture in mind.
“We’ve had a heck of a season,” she said. “I’m extremely proud of this group. I feel like we overachieved. Our goal this whole season was to send these seniors out with one more trip to the Dome and we’ve done that and we’re taking home a trophy.”
Skyview won the state title in 2012, and that’s what Inglemoor takes aim at next year.
“We got here last year and got sixth, we got fourth this year and we’re looking to improve that next year,” Augustavo said. “We have everybody back and a couple of freshmen coming up who are pretty good, too. We’ve just got to stay healthy. We should be pretty good.”
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