TACOMA — Somehow, Woodinville got its chance.
Saddled with foul trouble early, a deficit the Falcons seemingly could do nothing about for three quarters, and an experienced opponent in perennial power Central Valley, Woodinville’s quest to become the 10th big-school girls-basketball program to go 29-0 and win a state title was getting mauled on Saturday night at the Tacoma Dome.
And still, the top-seeded Falcons (28-1) managed to have a look at a three-pointer with 15 seconds to go that would have tied the Class 4A state girls championship game. Brooke Beresford’s shot rattled out, however, and the No. 3 Bears won their second title in three seasons, 59-55.
Central Valley of Spokane Valley beat Woodinville to win the title on both occasions. Last time, the Bears were undefeated and en route to a national championship.
“I’m just so happy,” first-year Central Valley coach Felice Orrell said. “We had some losses early on in the season. But all season, we’ve just had that quiet confidence.”
The Bears’ experience and efficiency showed throughout.
After Tatum Thompson scored the first basket of the game for Woodinville, Central Valley (23-3) ripped off the next six points to take a lead it would never relinquish.
The Bears led it 15-11 after one quarter, 32-24 at the half and 42-33 after three quarters.
“I wouldn’t call it a fun game,” Woodinville coach Scott Bullock said. “It was a fun finish.”
Down by 11 after Chloe Williams scored to open the fourth quarter, the Falcons rallied behind Mia Hughes and Thompson.
“Mia kept us in the game,” Bullock said. “You could see it in her eyes. She was going to do anything she could to get us the finish.”
The duo combined to score 15 of 17 points in a 17-9 run that got the Falcons back within three, 53-50, on a Hughes runner with 1 minute, 17 seconds to play. The teams traded three free throws each and with 20 seconds to play, the Bears led it 56-53.
Thompson, who had picked up two quick fouls after her first basket, and sat the remainder of the first half, fouled out with 1:15 left having scored 10 points. Hughes scored a game-high 28 points, giving her 85 for the tournament to break her own tournament record (kept since 2017) of 83 points set in 2018.
“I think the whole reason this team has been successful this year is we have heart; we don’t give up,” a teary-eyed Hughes said. “We couldn’t pull this one off tonight.”
With 15 seconds left, Woodinville brought the ball down the floor and found Beresford on the right wing. Her shot looked good as it left her hand but fell off the rim.
Peyton Howard rebounded for Central Valley, was fouled and made 1 of 2 at the line. Veronica Sheffey raced up the floor for a layup that pulled the Falcons within two 57-55 with eight seconds left.
But when Howard missed the second of two free throws again, with six seconds remaining, Grace Geldien got a big offensive rebound and made 1 of 2 to make it a two-possession game with 4.6 seconds left.
“We will be back,” Bullock said. “We have a lot of young kids. They are sad in there right now. I love that about them. They care. We won 28 games in a row, and it’s not like we played a light schedule. Central Valley was just better today.”