The Braves advance to the Class 3A state quarterfinals after avenging their only loss of the season by beating Mercer Island.
Jadyn Bush stalked the basketball.
Everywhere it was Friday night during the Class 3A regional matchup between top-seeded Bishop Blanchet and No. 8 seed Mercer Island, Bush was lurking to get her hands on the orange orb.
Bush had the final touch, scoring a game-winning free throw and snatching a game-saving steal for the 48-47 win at Bothell High.
“She was just attacking; she was a beast,” Mercer Island coach Gillian d’Hondt said. “That was the difference.”
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The Braves led 47-42 with 2:46 left in the game. Islanders point guard Claire Mansfield scored a three-pointer with 2:03 left on the clock that rejuvenated her team. Teammate Anna Luce, a 6-foot-2 senior center, had the tying bucket with 20 seconds left on a turnaround jumper in the paint against Bush’s defense.
Mercer Island quickly fouled Bush with 8.4 seconds on the clock. She missed the first and made the second to inch ahead.
Mercer Island gained possession on a jump-ball call, but Bush, a 5-11 senior forward, slapped away its first inbound attempt. On the second, with three-tenths of a second remaining, Bush leapt to catch the ball in her chest and prevent any desperation shot.
For Blanchet, the win avenges a 50-44 loss against Mercer Island in district play last week. It was the Braves’ first loss of the season.
“You hope the loss is a learning experience and this proved it was,” said Bush, who finished with a game-high 24 points. “We were very determined and we had such a lack of energy the last game that that was one of the focuses for us — being all over the place and playing with a higher intensity. This was a very important win.”
Blanchet (23-1) receives a bye to the state quarterfinals to be played Thursday at the Tacoma Dome. Mercer Island (21-6) plays the winner of Saturday’s Bethel vs. Wilson regional in a loser-out game on Wednesday at the Tacoma Dome.
The Islanders were led by Luce’s 21 points. Senior point guard Kailee Yan added 19 points.
“This is great, the kids didn’t like that feeling too much of losing,” Blanchet coach Brett Hecko said. “I don’t know if there will be any carry over to state. I’d like to think win or lose, we’ll refocus and be ready to go down there. This allows us to scout … and hopefully we got rid of any (doubt).”
Eastlake to state
Eastlake girls basketball is headed back to the Tacoma Dome after an 83-50 win over Curtis.
The young Wolves squad set the goal at the beginning of the season after a loss to Todd Beamer abruptly ended their 2016 season. No. 9 seed Eastlake used the three-point ball to bury No. 16 seed Curtis 83-50 in a Class 4A regional matchup at Bothell.
Gina Marxen, a 5-foot-7 junior guard, scored 14 of her final 23 points in the opening quarter to counter Curtis’ early zone defense. Freshman center Keeli Burton scored the easy buckets in the paint to finish with a game-high 24 points.
“We have so many weapons,” Marxen said. “This is so exciting because we feel last year, it slipped through our fingers. We’re ready this year.”
Eastlake plays the loser of Saturday’s regional matchup between No. 1 seed Kentlake and No. 8 seed Camas. The state tournament game will be played Wednesday at 9 p.m. at the Tacoma Dome.
Senior Kaelin Williams-Kennedy led Curtis with 20 points. The Vikings played its past five games without two of its starters due to injuries.