They scurried off the court in tears last year at the Tacoma Dome while another team accepted the trophy many believed would be theirs. That moment stuck with the...

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KIRKLAND — They scurried off the court in tears last year at the Tacoma Dome while another team accepted the trophy many believed would be theirs.

That moment stuck with the Garfield girls basketball team. And if the top-ranked Bulldogs seem a bit sharper these days; credit that second-place state finish for some of it.

Last night, Garfield earned a chance to erase those memories altogether, punching its ticket to the Class 4A state tournament with a 75-58 victory over Redmond in the championship game of the Sea-King 4A District tournament at Juanita High School.

The win marked the 13th in a row for the Bulldogs (22-1), ranked sixth in the West region by USA Today. They return to state for the third straight year, having finished third and second, respectively.

“What it did for the girls, it got them more mentally focused,” said Garfield coach Joyce Walker of her team’s 55-52 championship-game loss to Roosevelt last year. “It made them meet some challenges in the gym, the day-to-day grind, when you’re practicing and you may not want to practice as hard, or you might want to find an excuse. We had less excuses this year.”

Garfield looked every bit the state’s top-ranked team last night, leading by double digits most of the second half, placing four players in double-figure scoring, and winning its second consecutive conference championship.

Junior Samantha Tinned led the charge with 20 points. Malia O’Neal added 19, Vivian Frieson 13 and Chanieka Williams 10.

“I feel like this is one of the best teams I’ve ever played on,” Tinned said. “We could have a different starting five every game because everybody can play.”

Redmond (17-6) meets Skyline (17-7) in a loser-out game today at 6 p.m. at Juanita for the district’s No. 2 seed to the state tournament. The two East Division foes split their regular-season series. Redmond won the most recent matchup, 79-62, on Feb. 4.

The Mustangs missed state last year after five straight appearances that yielded four state trophies.

“They were the class tonight,” said Redmond coach Pat Bangasser of Garfield. “It was a good game; they’re a good team.”

Jackie Olson and Colleen Betteridge both scored 15 points for the Mustangs.

Garfield never trailed, but needed work to shake Redmond, which lurked one or two points off the lead for most of the first quarter.

The Bulldogs started to pull away early in the second period, however, with a 9-0 run The burst pushed their lead to double digits, 27-17, for the first time. Continued pressure, and a buzzer-beating three-pointer by O’Neal, resulted in a 39-27 Garfield advantage at the intermission.

Other game

Skyline 51, Woodinville 41 (loser out)

The Spartans from Sammamish, in their first season in Class 4A, advanced to within one game of the school’s second state-tournament appearance.

Sophomore Madison Maloney scored nine of her team-high 15 points in the first quarter, helping the Spartans (17-7) to an early lead and their third victory over Woodinville this season. The Spartans also defeated the Falcons on Jan. 21 and Feb. 23, the latter a 70-68 overtime thriller.

Yesterday, Skyline never trailed and led by double digits most of the second half.

“We’re excited, but this isn’t our goal,” said Skyline coach Jodi Sackville. “We’re not content with this. Our goal is to go to state; we haven’t met that goal yet. We’re glad we won, but there wasn’t a whole lot of excitement in the locker room.”

Junior LeeAnn Palo led Woodinville with 18 points.

The loss ended a remarkable turnaround season for the Falcons under new coach Steve Segadelli, the KingCo 4A coach of the year. Woodinville (17-7) more than doubled last year’s win total (seven) and posted its first winning season since 1992-93.