Eagles take sixth at state tourney

March 9, 2010

By Tim Pfarr

Mackenzie Schiltz, Issaquah junior guard, drives with a steal from Garfield’s Shaunice Robinson (right) during the third quarter in the 3A state tournament battle for third and sixth place March 6 at the Tacoma Dome. Issaquah was defeated by the Lady Bulldogs, 71-54. By Greg Farrar

The Issaquah High School girls basketball team overcame a variety of adversity throughout the season, especially in the final weeks of the season. When the season finally concluded March 6 in the 4A state tournament, the Eagles had many reasons to be proud of their accomplishments.

Issaquah took sixth place in the tournament last week in the Tacoma Dome to finish out the season with a 23-6 record. The Eagles had to win four loser-out games just to reach state.

In the Eagles’ final game, they lost to 4A KingCo Conference rival Garfield 71-54 for third place. Prior to that game, Issaquah defeated Lewis & Clark, of Spokane, 51-49 and Lake Stevens 67-47 before falling to eventual state champion Auburn Riverside 58-40 in the semifinals.

“I’m proud of the girls. Great effort and a heck of a run,” Issaquah coach Kathy Gibson said.

Issaquah went into the tournament as one of the younger and shorter teams. The Eagles were also minus guard Dayna Talley, a tough defender who tore her ACL in the final regular-season game.

“We were the underdogs and we weren’t expected to make it past the first round,” point guard Dominique Mendezona said. “It felt pretty good because we knew we were good enough to make it. It’s a bummer we had to finish like this but sixth place is still awesome.”

Issaquah opened with a nail-biter against Lewis & Clark, which had won state titles in 2008, 2007 and 2006. Two free throws by forward Maddey Pflaumer in the final seconds capped a dramatic victory for the Eagles.

Gibson said the team found its stride in the game against Lake Stevens. Mackenzie Schiltz hit six 3-point field goals and finished with a game-high 20 points as the Eagles breezed by Lake Stevens. Mendezona added 14 points and Pflaumer had 12 points as the Eagles shot 47.1 percent for the game.

When it faced Auburn Riverside in the semifinals, Issaquah’s rhythm hiccupped. The Eagles were unable to hit their 3-pointers and fell behind by 13 points. Issaquah did fight back in the third quarter with a 16-4 run to get within four points of Auburn Riverside. However, Auburn Riverside held off the Eagles to pull away.

Against Garfield, the Eagles fell behind early and were unable to catch up, despite sharp shooting by Pflaumer and strong rebounding by Blaire Brady. Pflaumer scored a game-high 20 points and Brady pulled down nine rebounds.

Schiltz and Brooke Miller also played well, as each scored nine points.

Issaquah played Garfield twice during the regular season. Issaquah won the first game 62-46 while Garfield won the second 59-53. In the third meeting, Issaquah had difficulty stopping Garfield’s bigger players. With a laugh, Gibson said her players seemed to resemble pinballs because of the size difference.

The future looks promising for the Eagles, who in two years at the 4A level have reached the state tournament both times.

Mendezona is the only graduating senior on the team, which took first place in the KingCo Crest Division this season.

“It was an honor to lead these girls,” Mendezona said. “They’re the most amazing girls ever and I’m definitely going to miss them.”

Mendezona plans to play at the college level next year, although she said she has not yet decided at what school.

Seven of Issaquah’s players will return as seniors next year, including Pflaumer, Brady, Miller and Schiltz.

“We’ve all been playing since fifth grade together so it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Miller said.

Pflaumer said the team will set its goals high next season.

“We’re really excited and we’re definitely going to go for the gold and try to go all out after it next year and win state,” she said. “That’s always the biggest goal.”

Tim Pfarr: 392-6434, ext. 239, or newcas@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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