Willapa Valley captured its first Pacific League championship since 2005 by romping past rival Raymond 52-37 Thursday night at Tenoski Gym in Menlo. Lauren Friese pumped in 20 points and cousin Karli Friese (league MVP) fired in 14 for the Vikings.
The Vikings left no doubt early on which team was title bound after charging out to a 22-5 lead after one quarter. Valley was relentless and went on to outscore RHS in every quarter.
“I thought we played our best half of basketball tonight in the first half scoring 35 points,” WVHS Head Girls' Basketball Coach Matt Bannish told the Herald. “We were excited about an opportunity to win a league title for the first time since 2005. I am very proud of the girls for their performances this week and for winning the league title. Our mental preparation was where it needs to be as we head into District play. We will enjoy this for a couple of days and go back to work next week preparing for our district game on Saturday, February 15. Our theme for the year has been to be happy and proud of how we play but not satisfied. So we look forward the postseason.
“We shot 10 of 13 from the field in the first quarter with Lauren Friese tallying 12 points in the quarter,” Coach Friese noted. “Raymond really struggled with their shooting tonight, which is very uncharacteristic of them and missing one the better players (Aiysha Garcia) in the league hurt them as well.”
Valley's defense held Raymond to 23% shooting (11 of 47), while the Vikes were a pretty hot 50% (23 of 46). Raymond turned the ball over 21 times.
Hailee Williams, who had an off night shooting (4 of 19), led the Lady Gulls in scoring with 11 points and 4 steals.
“Valley played very well tonight,:” RHS head coach Jon Schray told the Herald. “They played tough defense and shot the ball very well.”
The loss for Raymond snapped a 7-game winning streak.
Willapa Valley heads to the District IV tournament with an overall mark of 17-3. The ladies won the league with an 11-1 record. Raymond finished second at 10-2, and the Lady Seagulls are 14-6 overall. Raymond also earned a first round bye.
Raymond 50, NW Christian 48
Raymond won a nail biter over host Northwest Christian, 50-48 last Tuesday (Feb. 4) at Lacey. Williams fueled the Gulls' attack with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals.
“We came back for a big league win tonight,” Coach Schray reported to the Herald. “We were down the whole game, but kept it close until they went on a run on is in the third quarter when they got up by 10. We closed the gap with a run of our own and tied it up going into the fourth quarter. We hit some big shots and played great defense and went up one with about two minutes to play. We hung on tough, ran the clock out and Hailee hit a runner from the block with under a minute to play. They came down and called a time out with 30 seconds on the clock. We played some great defense and then fouled giving them two free throws. They hit one and missed the rim on the second . We inbounded the ball, got fouled twice, missed the front end of the 1-and-1 with 6 seconds left, but Mikayla Collins tied up the offensive board and the clock went out before the officials could call the jump. It was exciting.
“I was thoroughly pleased with the way the girls played. Hailee was tough tonight, scoring 20 by hitting four threes and driving to the hoop,” Schray said. 'On such a tall team, it was no small feat. She also led the team in rebounds.
“Cydney Flemetis (11 pts, 5 rebounds, 4 steals) was swinging JV earlier in the season and now she has had two out of the last three games with more than 10 points,” Schray noted. “Watching her tonight you would have thought she had been starting all year.
“Gabbby Oatfield stepped in to the starting lineup tonight...another player that had been swinging all season and she had 8 points including 2 for 2 from behind the arch. We had 22 steals as a team and only committed 9 turnovers. It was a good all-around team effort.
Willapa Valley 54, South Bend 34
Willapa Valley tuned up for the Raymond game by whipping South Bend 54-34 last Tuesday (Feb. 4) at home. Brooke Harden hurt the Tribe inside while throwing in 16 points and taking down 6 caroms. Lauren Friese scored a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards, and Karli Friese sank 13 points, dished out 7 assists and made 6 steals.
“Our focus for the games this week was to be mentally prepared to play,” Coach Bannish told the Herald. “I thought we got off to a real good start. The game was close the first half with a score of 24-21 with 3:44 in the second quarter. We then went on a 16-0 run to go up 40-21 with 4:20 in the third. We forced 17 turnovers which turned into transition points. I thought Brooke Harden had a real strong performance.”
Valley tore out to a 20-12 lead after one quarter and outscored the Lady Indians in every frame.
Kessa Wilson led SBHS in scoring with a dozen points; Sierra Cearns scored 9, and Rielly Myers added 6.
Naselle 58, SBHS 53 (OT)
South Bend's season ended with a heartbreaking overtime loss at Naselle last Thursday on the road. The Lady Indians had to defeat the Comettes for a playoff game to get into the district tourney.
Sierra Cearns spearheaded the Tribes' offense with 15 points, and Myers turned in a double-double with 11 rebounds and 10 points. Wilson scored 14 points and grabbed 9 boards. Katlyn Sawyer contributed 8 rebounds and 5 assists.
South Bend was outscored 16 to 1 at the foul line. Naselle took 33 free throws compared to only 5 for South Bend.
(As of 2-8-14) W-L ALL
Willapa Valley 11-1 17-3
Raymond 10-2 14-6
Naselle 7-5 11-9
North Beach 5-7 7-13
NW Christian 5-7 8-12
South Bend 4-8 6-12
Ocosta 0-12 2-17
“The free throws got us down the stretch,” SBHS head coach Gary Wilson told the Herald. “It was back-and-forth in overtime, but we ran out of gas. They outplayed us in that stretch. It was a great effort. They beat us by 16 at (South Bend). We were just a couple of breaks away from putting it away.”
South Bend shot 41% from the floor on 23 of 56, while NHS was 20 of 32 for 62%.
The Lady Indians led 13-5 after one quarter and 23-14 at halftime. The Comettes outscored the Tribe 19-13 in the third quarter, 13-10 in the fourth quarter and 12-7 in overtime.
Coach Wilson thanked his seniors, Wilson, Sawyer, Cearns and Baylee Trent, for their contributions to SBHS basketball.