Big La Conner comeback clinches fourth in state

 

The high school girls' basketball team saved its best for last in Spokane last week.

The sixth-seeded Lady Braves, fueled by a monster second half from game-high scorer Ellie Marble, erased a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to beat Adna 52-46 Saturday morning to claim fourth place at the Washington state 2B Hardwood Classic.

Down 39-29 early in the final stanza, the team staged an improbable comeback to match the team's finish at Spokane last year.

"It was fantastic and so much fun," said first year head coach Joe Harper, whose charges also defeated Northwest Christian of Colbert and Rainier in the round of 12. "What an experience for these girls.

"I couldn't be prouder of these kids," Harper, who also praised the team's fans, cheerleaders and band, told the Weekly News. "The grit and determination to come back the way they did against a good Adna team. It was nice to beat a higher seed in our last game and even better to send these seniors off with a win."

Adna, seeded fifth, settled for sixth place, its highest placement in the girls' half of the state tourney in more than a decade.

La Conner's lone loss at Spokane was a 58-43 setback on Thursday to defending state champion Warden. Warden placed third, losing to state title winner Colfax in the semifinals.

La Conner's late rally against Adna is sure to be talked about for some time.

Marble, who finished with 26 points – all but four coming in the second half – began the comeback with a six-point spurt over a 90-second span. The 6'-0" senior converted a free throw, hit a floater in the lane, drew a foul on an inside bucket and meshed the ensuing charity toss.

Suddenly, La Conner trailed just 39-35 with 4:24 to play. But Marble and the Lady Braves were just getting started.

A Marble steal and layup pulled La Conner within 39-37 at the 3:47 mark. Marble tied the score at 39-39 with a putback with 3:15 remaining, completing a 10-0 Lady Braves run.

Marble answered a perimeter trey by Adna's Danika Hallom with a post-up basket and foul shot to knot matters at 42-42 with just over two minutes on the clock.

Moments later, Marble gave her team its first lead since the early stages of the game at 44-42 on another inside hoop. She then broke a 44-44 deadlock, despite being double-teamed, with a short bank shot.

Senior guard Josie Harper joined Marble in double-digit scoring with 12 points, extending the lead to 48-44 with a baseline floater. Harper and senior post Makayla Herrera clinched the Lady Braves triumph with two free throws each in the waning moments.

With her clutch late foul shots, Herrera reached double figures with 10 points. Freshman Maeve McCormick rounded out the scoring with a jumper in the first frame.

Adna struggled down the stretch after its top scorer, Karlee VonMoos, fouled out. Von Moos was sidelined with 14 points and perhaps more importantly left Adna no one to match up with Marble defensively.

"When Karlee went out," Adna coach Chris Bannish said in an interview with the Chehalis Chronicle, "our assignments changed a lot. We lost our edge a bit. It killed us."

In what was often a physical matchup, Marble played part of the fourth quarter with four fouls.

Against Warden, La Conner had few answers for Lady Cougars' standout Lauren Madsen, who scored 13 of her team-best 22 points in the first quarter. La Conner switched to a zone defense and held Madsen to just six points after the break, but by then the damage was done.

Marble led all scorers with 24 points and Herrera added 10.

But Warden didn't give Harper, who entered the game averaging 19 points per contest, many good looks. She was held to five points.

Casey scored four points, two in each half.

Round of 12 wins

La Conner coaches took great pride in the Lady Braves' 67-47 rout of Rainier Friday, a game that saw all the team's players see playing time and land in the scoring column.

"I'm not sure any other La Conner state team can say each player scored in a game," coach Harper said. "Certainly not in the last few trips anyway."

Sophomore Lily Dougliss sealed the rare feat with a transition basket in the fourth period.

"I think I jumped 10 feet in the air when Lily got her points," said Harper. "It was so cool for those girls to be in the state scorebook."

Marble and Herrera led the way with 18 points apiece. Harper added a dozen tallies.

Senior wing Kennedy Miller, who drained a pair of long three-pointers, chipped in nine points.

Freshman Izzy Villard was perfect on two field goal attempts – one a long corner trey.

Sophomore Lydia Grossglass and freshmen Shaniquah Casey and McCormick each meshed a free throw.

La Conner opened at Spokane with a convincing 60-44 triumph over Northwest Christian-Colbert Wednesday, with Harper's 20 points leading the way, 17 before intermission.

Marble netted 17 points and Herrera scored another 12 while pulling down a game-best 18 rebounds.

Miller (9) and Casey (2) landed in the scoring column as well.

"In the second half, we avoided the slow third quarter that doomed us against Napavine last week," said coach Harper, referring to La Conner's state round of 16 loss to the Lady Tigers in Chehalis Feb. 25.

La Conner placed higher than Napavine, which ended up fifth after losing 54-47 to Warden Saturday.

 

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