YAKIMA — Devynn Warns can’t wait for a chance at redemption.
She wants a chance to return to a state girls basketball tournament and leave a better impression than the one she and her Liberty of Issaquah teammates did Wednesday during a 73-50 loss to red-hot Ellensburg in a Class 2A loser-out game at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
“It lights a big fire,” Warns said. “I’m ready for the season to start tomorrow. We’re ready for next year and we want to be back and hopefully get a ring.”
She is just a junior on a young team that will have high aspirations again next season, although it will be as a Class 3A school aiming for the Tacoma Dome. No. 2 Ellensburg (23-1) showed it can shoot with the best of them, in any classification, burying 10 of 14 three-pointers (71.4%) and shooting 50% from the field overall (27 for 54).
“Freight train!” Liberty coach Jamie Prescott said while walking off the court.
And the Patriots were a train wreck to start the game, missing their first nine shots from the floor, and three of four free throws, to fall into a 19-1 hole they could never climb out of.
Warns, who missed last season with a knee injury but returned to earn KingCo 3A/2A MVP honors, finished with a team-high 19 points, but struggled with her shot (as a team, the Patriots hit at just a 28.8% clip). She said it was a combination of nerves and new venue.
“Having a new atmosphere was just kind of different for the whole team and a lot of the girls haven’t really played on a big stage,” she said. “But we’re getting used to it and we’re going to back next year, stronger.”
Grace Moawad, Liberty’s lone senior starter, won’t have that opportunity but left with no regrets.
“It didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, but it was definitely an experience I won’t forget,” she said.
She finished with nine points, while junior Brooke Petersen had 15.
The Bulldogs, who were coming off an upset regional loss to No. 7 W.F. West of Chehalis, were in sync from the start, bolting to a 13-0 lead that included a trio of 3-pointers from three different players. They led 24-6 at the end of the first period and 40-23 at the half.
Liberty coach Jamie Prescott used every second of halftime to try to right the ship — her team returned to the floor as the buzzer sounded.
“We just talked about having to fight,” she said. “We couldn’t just give up.”
As Moawad put it, “It was a challenge, but I’m always up for a challenge.”
The Patriots (18-8), who were seeded No. 15, had played a tough schedule featuring many Class 3A and 4A teams, never losing by more than 10. They fought enough Wednesday to cut the lead to 15 early in the third period, 42-27, but could get no closer.
“It’s really hard when a team shoots 71.4% from the three-point line and 50 percent from the floor,” Prescott said. “It doesn’t matter how well you play. It’s tough.”
Ellensburg’s two all-conference guards, senior Brinley Hagemeier and sophomore Dylan Philip, helped lead the way with 19 and 15 points, respectively, but the difference was sixth-player Olivia Anderson, a 6-4 freshman who delivered 17 points.
- Ashlynn Sylve had 15 points and 12 rebounds as No. 13 East Valley-Yakima (16-7) upset No. 4 White River 44-35. Emma Robbins had 16 points and eight rebounds in the season-ending loss for the Hornets (23-4).
- In the Class 2A boys tournament, Mo Kora had 12 points, 18 rebounds, six assists and and two blocks as No. 4 Lindbergh (24-3) eliminated No. 12 Lakewood (15-10) with a 68-57 win. No. 9 Black Hills (20-6) eliminated No. 8 Mountlake Terrace (18-8) 52-50.
- In the Class 1A tournament, the King’s boys and girls advanced to the quarterfinals. Tyler Linhart had 14 points and 16 rebounds as the No. 14 boys (16-10) eliminated the defending champs, No. 3 Zillah (22-3) 68-59. The No. 6 girls eliminated No. 14 Montesano 65-43.
- The No. 5 Bellevue Christian boys were eliminated by No. 16 Meridian 61-49.