Prep girls basketball: W.F. West stunned in 2A opening round thriller


For the last month-plus, no girls basketball team has given W.F. West much resistance. It hasn’t been in a true dogfight since January and all of its last eight victories have been by a comfortable margin.

So when the Bearcats got punched in the mouth right away on Friday night, they didn’t wilt under the pressure of a Class 2A opening round contest.

Still, an automatic berth in the quarterfinals next week proved just out of reach.

A potential game-tying 3-point attempt out of the fingertips from freshman guard Dilyn Boeck was too powerful and W.F. West couldn’t get another look as Archbishop Murphy pulled off a 58-55 stunner at W.F. West High School.

“I’m really proud (of) how we made a comeback,” Bearcats head coach Kyle Karnofski said. “It comes down to making one or two more plays. Hats off to them. They played well; I think we played really well too.”

It marked the first time all season W.F. West (20-4) lost at home and had its winning streak snapped. The heartbreaker puts it into the Round of 12 at the Yakima Valley SunDome against the winner of West Valley and Port Angeles, which is played on Saturday at 2 p.m.

That Round of 12 matchup will be at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

“We knew it was a more difficult game then we’re used to,” junior forward Julia Dalan said. “They’re a lot faster pace than we’re used to. It was a complete shift in style. We adjusted the best we could, but there were a lot of mistakes early on that caught up to us in the end.”

What started out as a possible one-sided affair turned into a thriller late in the second-half. The Bearcats stormed out to a 53-48 cushion with the first seven points in the final stanza.

Then a momentum shift occurred.

After a missed shot by the Wildcats (20-5), Boeck was trapped in the corner and Karnofski ran down the baseline yelling for a timeout. None was called, W.F. West turned the ball over and Caroline Burns buried a wing trifecta to trim the deficit to two.

Archbishop Murphy scored the next three points to regain the lead.

“We did have the jump ball possession I believe at the time, but I wanted to save that,” Karnofski said. “That is a big one. I can’t fault anyone, just the nature of basketball. The refs are not looking for me for a timeout.”

Dalan connected down low to put the Bearcats back ahead. Ava Marr answered for the Wildcats with a bucket plus the foul, but she missed the and-one free throw. With under 20 seconds left, Dalan shot a heavily contested jumper and Archbishop Murphy’s Ashley Fletcher sunk two free throws to up the margin to three.

Boeck’s last shot sailed over the rim and the Wildcats erupted into euphoria. They advanced to the quarterfinal round to be played on Thursday in Yakima.

“We ran that play exactly like we wanted to,” Dalan said.

On film, W.F. West knew its opponent was a dangerous shooting team. It found out quickly just how dangerous.

Brooke Blachly sank five of Archbishop Murphy’s six first quarters 3s to jump out to a double digit lead. It maintained that advantage until 2 minutes, 37 seconds left in the half when the Bearcats reverted to their style.

They closed the half on a 10-2 spree to trail by four, then freshman Joy Cushman gave them their first lead since the opening bucket with back-to-back layups in the third frame.

“It seems simple, but we always talk about playing our own style,” Dalan said. “Just falling back into what we’re used to. It obviously was successful.”

Dalan ended with a team-high 22 points and 11 rebounds for W.F. West while Cushman chipped in 16 points. Blachly paced Archbishop Murphy with 21 points.

The Bearcats will have to place at state starting from the Round of 12 for the second straight year. Karnofski has been preparing them for the potential of a morning game with 8 a.m. practices.

He expects something else as well.

“Be us,” he said. “It is a weird tournament, the ball bounces funny sometimes. If we can play like that, I think we can compete with a lot of teams there. That group still wants to keep playing and I fully believe, a week from tonight, there’s no reason that we can’t still be playing.”