The Edmonds-Woodway girls basketball team knows the road to a District Championship means winning several games on the road. In Tuesday’s playoff opener, the Warriors traveled to Monroe and came away with a hard fought, gritty 45-35 win over the Bearcats.
E-W knew that playing without the services of junior Natalie Kasper would require others to come forward. “We called upon some of the girls to step up,” said coach Rebekah Wells. “This is the team we are. We come together.”
One of the players to contribute was freshman Missy Peterson. Peterson scored the first four points of the game on a free throw and a three-pointer. “I was really nervous before the game,” said Peterson. “Once the game started, I kind of blocked it out. I have really supportive teammates.” Senior Sidney Eck also came out of the gate quick, scoring the next four points for E-W. Jordyn Turner hit a three as the shot-clock expired for Monroe, but the Warriors answered on a play that made coach Wells smile as Kate Wooley fired the first of three quick passes to Mady Burdett then Moni Jackson and finally back to Wooley for the layin, putting the visitors up 10-5. “Sharing is always a good thing,” said the coach. Chelsea Santjer hit a basket as the first quarter wound down, making the score 10-5 after one.
The second quarter started more favorably for Monroe as they outscored E-W 8-4 , pulling within one, 14-13. Deidra Miller scored two of the baskets for the Bearcats. E-W’s Jackson then stepped in, first scoring on a drive, then stealing the ball and finding Peterson on a breakaway. Peterson was fouled on the next possession and converted both free throws and after a jumper from Burdett, the Warriors were up five 18-13.
Amber Van Brunt made a pair of free throws for Monroe but the next time down court, Jackson was fouled and made both ends of the one-and-one. Alex Alexander made free throws for Monroe and then with six seconds left, Jackson hit a three, the last points of the half, giving the Warriors a six point lead, 23-17 heading into half-time. Jackson would finish the half with sevent, second only to Peterson’s eight for E-W. “I was just glad I was able to have a good game tonight,” Peterson said. “It was really fun.”
The third quarter started slowly for both teams, with the first basket not coming until the six-minute mark. “ It was a grind out there. We knew they’d be physical, so we were ready for it,” Wells said. Wooley broke the drought first with a spinner in the lane. Peterson then returned an earlier favor, stealing the ball and finding a streaking Jackson for the bucket and a 27-17 E-W lead. After Kylee Ferreira scored for Monroe, Sidney Eck made two of her six free throws on the night. Eck missed none.
“People always ask me about my free throws,” said Eck. “It’s just something I’m good at, something coach always has us practicing.”
Following another Ferreira basket, Leah Bakken made a blind “hook” shot in traffic. Loryn Moore scored a pair of baskets for Monroe, but the Warriors finished the quarter strongly, with a baseline runner by Maddy Nealey, a free-throw from Jackson and Peterson finishing it off with a contested layin as the buzzer went off. After three, the Warriors led by 11, 36-25.
In the final period, Monroe appeared determined to take advantage of their size. Van Brunt not only scored on three consecutive times down the court, but she also got Eck in foul trouble. With 4:30 left, Eck picked up her fourth foul, sending her to the bench and Ferreira to the foul line. After she made the free throws, suddenly it was Monroe with momentum and E-W only ahead by six. Freshman Jadyn Alexander continued the Monroe run, with her first two points of the night as she made both free throws after a foul on Burdett.
With the lead down to four, the teams traded turnovers before Peterson spotted Jackson cutting across the lane. Jackson was held on the play sending her to the line where she made one of two increasing the lead to five. E-W’s defense stepped up, forcing another turnover and on the next possession Wooley and Eck worked pick-and-roll magic and all Monroe could do was foul Eck, as she’d done all night, converted the free throws.
With 33 seconds left, Eck was fouled again, sending her to the line and the Monroe student section to the exits. Eck made two more at the stripe with Wooley adding a free throw to create the final score, 45-35. Eck led a balanced attack for the Warriors with 12, followed by Jackson, Peterson with 10 and Wooley with six. Van Brunt was the only Bearcat in double-figures, equaling Eck’s 12. Eck was named KRKO Radio’s player of the game for her efforts.
The win sends E-W to the semi-finals against top-ranked Lynnwood. The Warriors were handily beaten the first time the teams faced, but made progress in the re-match. “I ask the team: What can we do? What can we control?” said Wells of facing Lynnwood. Wells added she hopes to have Kasper back Friday. Game time is 6 p.m. at Mountlake Terrace High School.
Warriors scoring: Wooley 6, Burdett 2, Eck 12, Nealey 2, Jackson 11, Bakken 2, Peterson 10.
— By Jeff Smarr