Community, school get behind Lady Warriors as they head to state tourney

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First-year Edmonds-Woodway Coach Duane Hodges talks over strategy with his players during practice Tuesday. Photo by IdeasUnfold.com

At 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Edmonds-Woodway girls basketball team will play in the state high school basketball tournament for the first time in 17 years. While that’s big news, the state tournament bid is bigger than the basketball team. It’s also important to the school and the community, as the event will draw an estimated five rooter buses and two band buses plus fans in numerous private vehicles driving to the Tacoma Dome to support their team.

“It’s big for the school, very big,” said first-year head coach Duane Hodges, who took the job after leaving Seattle Christian last year. “I mean, people are just starting to get their arms around the fact that we haven’t been there in 17 years.”

For the young basketball team, which has no seniors on the roster, the 17-year drought was inspiration. After losing 54-56 to Marysville in the 4A District 1 tournament in the second round last week, the Warrior team experienced an odd but familiar feeling.

“It reminded me a lot of the feelings I had last year when we lost to Oak Harbor in the district tournament,” said sophomore guard Madeline Kasper. “It was pretty stressful knowing we had to win two more games to qualify.”

With the loss, the Warriors also missed out on one of their team goals.

Coach Hodges, with EWHS point guard Alex Kenney, says reaching state for the first time in 17 years 'is very big" for the school. Photo by IdeasUnfold.com

“As a team, we made a goal at the start of the season to be district champs,” said junior Alex Kenney. “It opened our eyes and we realized we have to play to our potential all the time.”

That’s exactly what the Warriors did in their next two games. After beating Shorewood 50-28, they entered a winner-to-state, loser-out game versus Arlington, a team they beat earlier in the year by 16 points. The Warriors rolled 69-44, showing no signs of complacency and earning their first state berth since the 1992-93 season.

“With our new coach and everything, people weren’t really sure how we were going to do this year,’ said junior Sydney Donaldson. “So it really means a lot that we made it this far to show everyone that we did deserve it and earned what we worked so hard for this season.”

Coach Hodges noticed the same work ethic in practice, and said he really wanted this opportunity for the kids.

“I was relieved,” Hodges said of the state berth. “I knew they felt they were good enough last year to get to state, so I knew it was a big hurdle, and one of their goals.”

Junior forward Angela Woods said the team’s performance in the state-qualifying game showed that the team “is finally playing like we know how to play, because lately we’ve had a few off games. We’re really motivated to do well, because not a lot of teams from our school or any school get to do this, so we want to make some history,” Woods said.

Congratulations to all the players on this year’s team, which finished the regular season with a 22-2 record: Madeline Kasper, KC Berg, Awa Marenah, Amia Nash, Corey Rois, Jordin Mason, Alex Kenney, Selma Tanjo, Falanika Tuuamalemalo, Delaney Curtis, Ashley Albertson, Sydney Donaldson and Angela Woods.

– Post by Michael Johnson, a Seattle-area freelance sports writer.

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