BELLEVUE — The Garfield girls began the season ranked No. 1 in the state, and the Bulldogs certainly looked the part with their season on the line Saturday afternoon at Sammamish High School.
They scored the first 12 points against the Prairie Falcons and while there were still 3½ quarters of basketball remaining, it was all but over as Garfield won 78-29 in a Class 3A regional loser-out game and earned a ticket to the 12-team state championships at the Tacoma Dome. The ninth-seeded Bulldogs will open Wednesday at 9 p.m. in a loser-out game against No. 8 Kennewick (18-4).
Garfield (19-7) lost in the finals in the 2018 state tournament and in the semifinals last year (taking third). The Bulldogs seem primed for another run with the way they played Saturday.
“That was the best they’ve played all year,” Garfield coach Marvin Hall said of his team that has struggled with injuries. “They are starting to turn the corner, and it’s about time. We had good energy, and they are feeling a sense of urgency at this point.”
The 12-0 run to start was just an appetizer for what was to come a few minutes later. After Prairie closed to 17-10 with 1:06 left in the first quarter, Garfield went on a 29-0 run over a span of eight minutes. Garfield overwhelmed Prairie with its speed and size and unleashed a barrage of three-pointers that knocked out the Falcons.
It was 46-10 before Prairie knocked down a three-pointer with a minute left in the half. No one in the gym would have minded had they began a running clock after that.
Garfield made 9 of 17 three-pointers in the first half. Three of those makes were by senior Meghan Fiso, who had 17 first-half points.
“They were on today, but we don’t want to live off the threes,” Hall said.
It was the type of basketball expected from Garfield this season, but three losses to rival Eastside Catholic and four to out-of-state teams took some of the spotlight away. But 6-foot-4 California recruit Dalayah Daniels missed most of the defeats with an ankle injury. She is healthy now, and Garfield should be a force to contend with again in Tacoma.
Prairie (14-10), last season’s state champion, ended the season on a three-game losing streak after its worst beating of the season.
Garfield’s starters played sparingly in the second half. Fiso finished with 21 points and Sahcari Davis added 16 to lead the Bulldogs, who were as good on defense as they were on offense. They are looking for more of the same in the days ahead.
Hall said he would relish a fourth chance to beat Eastside Catholic.
“Just one more; just give me one more,” he said.