Sehome girls basketball coach Kim Stensgar has won the big game and she’s lost a few in her time, so she knows that a team’s legacy never comes down to one game … or in this case, 94 seconds.
That’s how long it took for the Mariners to miss their opportunity to advance as they lost in the Class 2A state regionals to Sammamish, 45-38, on Friday night, Feb. 24, in Mount Vernon High School.
While the loss ended Sehome’s season, what couldn’t be lost amid the tears was the turnaround the team made and the success it had in going from an 8-11 record last year to an 18-6 finish and a state berth this season.
“I told them, ‘I know it hurts and I can’t take that away,’” said Stensgar. “But it shows me how much they care. We talked about the legacy they’re going to leave with Sehome basketball. I’m super proud of how they battled. They’re great kids.”
Be sure to check out Whatcom Hoops for stories and photos from all the playoff games.
For nearly all of Friday night’s game, it appeared that the Mariners would stick to the script that got them into the state playoffs: play scrappy defense against a much taller team and when it came to the end, score enough points to win.
They’d used that formula to beat Anacortes and Archbishop Murphy by two points each in loser-out district games. Unfortunately, the script didn’t play out the same Friday night.
The back-and-forth game was tied at 33, 34, 36, and finally 38 with less than two minutes to go and it appeared the ninth-seeded Mariners would pull out another last-second victory. But the 16th-seeded Redhawks had other ideas.
A Sammamish free throw with 1:34 left broke the tie and the Redhawks scored the final seven points, five by free throws when Sehome was forced to foul. Meanwhile, Sehome’s final possessions were a turnover, a missed layup, an offensive foul, a missed free throw, and a final missed 3-pointer.
“I don’t think we played our best, but we gave it our all,” said Sehome senior Mac Cooper. “At the beginning of the year, state wasn’t on our minds. We came a long way.”
Junior Emmy Hart led Sehome with 11 points and three 3-pointers, senior Madison Hogan had 10 points, and junior Madi Cooper added 9 points. But the Mariners, whose tallest starter was 5-foot-7, never got much offense going against a Sammamish front line that was 5-10, 5-11, and 6-1.
Stensgar praised the leadership of seniors Cooper, Hogan, and Maya Sargent — “They took on leadership roles and exceeded my expectations,” the coach said — and recognized that the future looks bright for the Mariners.
“For our younger kids, this will be fuel for the fire,” said Stensgar, who knows what it takes to win a state title having coached Mount Baker to a Class 1A state crown in 2017 before taking over at Sehome this season. “They’ll use it as a motivator.”
With the victory, Sammamish moves on to the Yakima SunDome, where they will play in a loser-out, first-round game against Sequim on Wednesday, March 1.
Sammamish 45, Sehome 38
Sammamish 9 12 10 14—45
Sehome 7 9 14 8—38
Sammamish: Charlotte Lewis, Sarah Skaggs 6, Katie Anderson 14, Sydney Ravenscraft 2, Kimberly Casiano, Sophia Eastman 23, Essie Hemnes.
Sehome: Madi Cooper 9, Emmy Hart 11, Natalie Brewer 2, Mac Cooper 4, Madison Hogan 10, Macie Aven, Kylie Watson 2, Maya Sargent.
CLASS 2A GIRLS STATE REGIONALS
Friday, Feb. 24
#4 Prosser 57, #5 Tumwater 31 (both to state tournament)
#10 Othello 45, #15 Mark Morris 39 (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#11 Renton 47, #14 Port Angeles 40 (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#16 Sammamish 45, #9 Sehome 38 (winner to regionals, loser out)
#1 Ellensburg 59, #8 Sequim 35 (both to state tournament)
Saturday, Feb. 25
#3 Burlington-Edison (17-6) vs. #6 WF West (19-4) at Mount Vernon High, 2 p.m. (both to state tournament)
#12 Enumclaw (17-6) vs. #13 Columbia River (17-5) at Auburn High, 2 p.m. (winner to state tournament, loser out)
#2 Lynden (20-4) vs. #7 White River (18-6) at Mount Vernon High School, 8 p.m. (both to state tournament)
At Yakima SunDome
Wednesday, March 1
Renton (19-4) vs. Burlington-Edison-WF West loser, 3:45 p.m. (loser out)
Othello (17-9) vs. Lynden-White River loser, 5:30 p.m. (loser out)
Enumclaw-Columbia River winner vs. Tumwater (19-5), 7:15 p.m. (loser out)
Sammamish (19-6) vs. Sequim (20-3), 9 p.m. (loser out)
Jim Carberry is a former Bellingham Herald sports editor and author of several books on Whatcom County prep basketball. Follow him on Twitter @whatcomhoops and visit the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page.