Skyline girls end basketball season at Hardwood Classic

March 6, 2013

By Lillian O'Rorke

Two weeks after a third-quarter run gave the Inglemoor Vikings what they needed to swipe the KingCo crown from the Skyline Spartans, history repeated its self at the 4A Girls Basketball State Tournament.

Once again March 1, the Vikings pulled away from the Spartans in the third quarter, this time beating them 44-34, knocking Skyline out of the state tournament before going on to finish in sixth place.

Shelby Kassuba, Skyline High School junior post, wraps up Inglemoor sophomore center Deja Strother on the court, turning her rebound into a traveling violation and giving the ball back to the Spartans in the waning minute of the game. Bryn deVita (15) and Haley Smith (22) look on for Skyline.  Photo by Greg Farrar

Shelby Kassuba, Skyline High School junior post, wraps up Inglemoor sophomore center Deja Strother on the court, turning her rebound into a traveling violation and giving the ball back to the Spartans in the waning minute of the game. Bryn deVita (15) and Haley Smith (22) look on for Skyline. Photo by Greg Farrar

“We hung our hat on hoping that the third time would be a charm,” said Skyline coach Greg Bruns. “In a game like that, a little run is what’s going to make the difference, and that’s what it was. It was just a couple, three shots in a row that changed the momentum and made the difference.”

Inglemoor has repeatedly been the dark spot on Skyline’s nearly blemish-free season. The Spartans’ conference record of 13-2 was in part thanks to their 45-40 loss to the Vikings on Jan. 16. The two teams met again in the championship game of the KingCo tournament where Inglemoor won 54-36. Skyline’ s third and final loss to the Vikings March 1 gave the Spartans an overall record of 20-7.

“They’ve kind of become our rival throughout the season just because they beat us twice, and we wanted to be able to prove ourselves today,” said senior Skyline co-captain Haley Smith. “I don’t think we can be unhappy with the season just because it ended with the two loses here. I think just the fact that we are here and we did so well this season – we can only be proud of what we’ve done.”

Both teams entered the game having lost the first round of the state tournament Feb. 28, when Mt. Rainier jolted Inglemoor 61-56 and Mead, the eventual state champion, defeated Skyline 53-33.

The Spartans and the Vikings started the first quarter March 1 with determined defenses, each not allowing the other to score for the first two minutes. With Smith blocking several shots under Inglemoor’s net, Skyline continued to hold its opponents at bay through half the quarter while putting five points on the board for itself. The Spartans held on their lead, finishing the quarter out at 11-5.

“I think our first quarter really showed how much we wanted to win and how much effort we could put in,” said Smith. “We were moving the ball really well; we were playing really great on defense; we were executing our plays and everything.”

Inglemoor caught up with Skyline about half way through the second quarter and by the half were up 16-14 over the Spartans. Three minutes into the third quarter, the Vikings were up 20-19 when Skyline senior guard, Lacey Nicholson, landed a bucket to take the lead.

“I was hoping we’d catch a spark off of it,” said Nicholson.

Except for three freethrows by Smith, Nicholson’s basket would be Skyline’s last that quarter. In the meantime, Inglemoor went on a 15-point run to end the period with 35-24.

“We were definitely rushing our shots in the second half. We would come down and take our first shot,” said Nicholson. “We started becoming almost a little selfish because everyone wanted to win so bad so we wanted to come down and get a quick shot off.”

Despite coming within three points of Inglemoor two-and-a-half minutes into the fourth quarter, Skyline never quite caught up. When the game’s final buzzer reverberated out of the Tacoma Dome’s loud speakers, the Spartans’ basketball season was officially over.

“Yes, obviously I wanted to win that game, but I’m not going to hang my head about that. I am really proud of how far we made it,” said Nicholson. “The reason I am crying is because I am so proud. I’m a very emotional person, and I’m just really happy with my teammates. Everyone on this team really does love each other, and I think that’s huge for our success this season.”

Nicholson led the team in points that game by putting nine on the board. Smith scored eight; senior Rachel Shim and junior Shelby Kassuba each had six and junior Bryn deVita scored five.

“This is my first time playing at the dome, and this experience is nothing like I’ve experienced before. The atmosphere, the experience, everything is so much fun. And I’m really glad I got to experience it with these two,” said Shim, throwing her arm around Nicholson and Smith. “ I wouldn’t have anybody else by my side.”

In his final post-game locker-room speech, Coach Bruns spoke about his five seniors: Lindsay Coutts, Ali Mendezona, Nicholson, Shim and Smith.

“They played with class and integrity. They led on the floor and they led off the floor; they had empathy for their teammates. They were one of the main reasons that we actually got to where we are,” he said. “We are one of the final eight teams in the state and that we had a wonderful season.”

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