PUYALLUP – This was another game Lake Washington High School girls basketball was supposed to lose.
The group of Kangaroos’ seniors – Lizzie Giovacchini, Carter Nelson and Madison Shepard – had felt the pain before.
This time, the result was going to be different.
Lake Washington, led by the 14 points each of Hanna Brender and Carly Rataushk, delivered and knocked off sixth-ranked Sumner, 51-44, on Friday in Class 2A regional tournament play at Puyallup High School.
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“I’m super happy for our seniors, Madison, Lizzie and Carter, because over the years, they’ve had such a suffering of basketball for so many years,” said Lake Washington coach Cory Shepard. “Their teams took a pounding from youth leagues all the way through JV. For those girls to stick through it year in and year out, after getting hammered, that’s my favorite thing.
“They were crying in here [in the locker room] and having a good time.”
The program, especially the seniors, avenged years of basketball agony in one night.
With Shepards’ point guard daughter Sydney Shepard running the show with 12 points, seven assists and six rebounds, the Kangaroos (13-12) thrived. The Kangs landed their first trip to the state tournament proper since qualifying for 3A state in 2000.
“Everybody thought we were going to come in and lose,” Sydney Shepard said. “We just proved that our league (KingCo 3A/2A) and that we can compete with 2A. I think we proved a lot of people wrong. We had motivation and knowing that we played tough teams.
“A lot of people came in thinking we were going to lose. We just stepped it up.”
The Kangs built their largest lead of the game 41-30 with 5:29 to play in the game on Brender’s layin on a drive and pass from Sydney Shepard. With 3:20 left, Rataushk, the team’s biggest presence inside on defense at 6-1, fouled out on a personal foul and subsequent technical for protesting the previous call.
“One of our best players fouled out and we ended the game without her,” said Cory Shepard. “When she went out, we changed up and went to a little more isolation with Sydney and she made them pay.
“She’s a really good passer. She really sees the floor.”
Rataushk led all scorers with eight points in the first half.
“We’re a way better team if we’re playing in a 2A league,” said Cory Shepard.
The winners advance to advance to the state tournament’s round of eight teams. A draw to determine first-round matchup and brackets for state will take place at the WIAA headquarters in Renton on Sunday.
The Class 2A and 1A tourneys are Thursday through Saturday in the Yakima Valley SunDome in Yakima.
Issaquah 64, Bellarmine Prep 46
In a 4A boys game at Puyallup High School, the backcourt duo of Ty Gibson (22 points) and Brian Watson (18) combined for 40 points and lifted the 10th-ranked Eagles (18-6) into the round of eight in the Class 4A state tournament.
Issaquah reached the round of eight for the first time since 2003.
Bellarmine, led by Rex Bodoia’s 16 points, finished 15-12.
Issaquah stretched its 35-25 halftime lead to 48-33 entering the fourth quarter. Gibson came off a screen a drilled a three-pointer with 3.8 seconds to go in the third quarter to hike the lead to 15 points.
The Class 4A and 3A state tournaments are Thursday through March 8 in the Tacoma Dome.