Girls rally into fifth-place state game

"Falcon girls basketball - WIAA 2A state tournamentWednesday's gameS. Whidbey 5 9 5 12 -- 31Kiona-Benton 10 9 1 8 -- 42Scoring: Ellis 19, Tornga 6, Wick 2, Poolman 2, Sievers 1, Gabelein 13-point goals: Ellis 5Thursday's gameS. Whidbey 10 12 17 12 -- 51Tenino 4 14 4 14 -- 36Scoring: Wick 17, Tornga 10, Ellis 9, Sievers 4, Waterman 4, Binford 2, Gabelein 2, Gutzmer 2, Poolman 1Friday's gameS. Whidbey 7 14 8 19 -- 48Eatonville 4 5 8 20 -- 37Scoring: Tornga 16, Ellis 14, Wick 6, Sievers 5, Binford 4, Gutzmer 2, Waterman 13-point goals: Ellis 2A combination of karma, revenge, and just plain, solid basketball added up to redemption for the South Whidbey High School girls basketball team Friday morning when they bested a new rival and played themselves into the state 2A fifth place final Saturday.After losing in the first round of the tournament 42-31 to Kiona-Benton Wednesday, then coming back with a 51-36 win over Tenino Thursday, the Falcons took on the Eatonville Cruisers in the Yakima Sundome yesterday in their last loser-out game. The Cruisers beat the Falcons 55-43 March 1 in a district playoff game after Falcon starters Kelsey Ellis and Lindsay Sievers both injured their ankles. But this time around, the Falcons lit up Eatonville in the first half of Friday's game to roll to a 48-37 win. Sierra Tornga and Kelsey Ellis did much of the work in the win, combining for 30 points and 20 rebounds. At the same time, Coach Nancy Ricketts said, her players closed up the middle on defense and prevented the Cruisers from getting any more than one shot at the basket at a time.But strategy wasn't everything in this game.There was also the revenge factor, Ricketts said Friday afternoon.With the win, the Falcons move into a final showdown with nemesis Lynden Christian. The Lyncs have beaten the Falcons three times this year, both in regular season and tournament play. Still, that's no reason to believe victory is impossible.Fourth time's the charm, Ricketts said.In Wednesday's game, the Falcons couldn't buy a basket. But Kelsey Ellis went to the sales counter plenty of times, hoping to put a few points on the board. She did, scoring 19 with five 3-pointers, but she was only able to connect on 11 of 36 shots from the field. Behind Ellis, the rest of the offense was practically dry. Sierra Tornga was the only other Falcon to score more than two points, putting away six. We had a real rough time at the basket, Ricketts said.They also had a rough time with Kiona's McKenzie Burgess, who literally owned the basketball. Burgess was not only the high scorer for her team with 14, but grabbed a tournament record 20 rebounds during the game. Throw in the Cinderella run the 13-11 team made through districts to state, and the Falcons had a lot of momentum to fight.They were playing with a lot of emotion, Ricketts said.After a strategic talk back at their hotel Wednesday night, the team seemed to get over any first-round jitters it might have had. The Falcons were firing on all cylinders Thursday morning when they downed Tenino. Nine different Falcons shot their way into the scorebook, with Hilary Wick leading all of them with 17 points and nine rebounds. Coach Ricketts said her players rediscovered what they need to do to win.We played more as a team, she said.But the Falcons did not exit the 51-36 win unscathed. Junior workhorse Haley Gabelein turned an ankle during the game, knocking her out of the remainder of the tournament.Kelsey Ellis also reinjured her ankle in the Eatonville game, but her coach expects her to play today. The South Whidbey-Lynden Christian game begins at 10:30 a.m. The winner will receive the fifth-place trophy, while the loser gets the eighth-place award."

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