BREWSTER – Playing their second game in as many days, the Tonasket girls basketball team dropped an overtime heartbreaker to Republic in the consolation game of the Brewster Christmas Tournament on Friday, Dec. 30, 40-39.
The Tigers, struggling with tired legs and playing all but six minutes without the services of Devan Utt (foul trouble), had the final shot. But Baylie Tyus, who ended up with the ball after Tonasket’s designed play for a potential game-winning shot went awry, missed on a desperation 3-pointer with two seconds left.
“Baylie was supposed to be the third option on the play,” said Tonasket coach Mike Larson. “So she wasn’t really expecting the ball where she got it.
“I told the girls it’s like we’re molding a fine piece of pottery. We’re starting to mold things into shape, but it’s still kind of soft, and sometimes it’s not going to look real pretty. But it’s all part of shaping it, and once we get it molded and hardened – and by that, I mean that we have the good habits engrained in us that we want – then we’ll have a beautiful piece of art.”
The Tigers, who expended a lot of energy in their loss to Brewster the previous night, struggled to equal that energy level until the game got to overtime. Republic outrebounded the Tigers by a huge margin in the first half, especially with Utt on the bench, and took a 23-19 lead at the half.
Neither team could find its offensive rhythm in the third quarter, which ended tied at 25. Tyus and Kelly Cruz combined for a 9-4 Tonasket run that had the Tigers up 34-29 with four minutes left.
But that was when Utt fouled out, and Republic scored the final five points of regulation, including the game-tying free throws by Jessica Largent with a minute left, to force overtime.
Tyus scored all five of the Tigers’ points in overtime and finished with a game-high 17. Kacie Lane scored the go-ahead basket for Republic with 40 seconds left, and the two teams combined for three turnovers and two missed free throws in the final seconds before Tonasket’s final attempt at a game-winner.
“I think the big thing we learned about tonight is what it takes to play back-to-back games,” Larson said. “When you get to (post-season) tournaments you have to do it. And we have a number of those nights in our league, starting with next weekend (at Chelan on Friday, and at home against Cascade on Saturday). Mentally it’s just a lot different, and I think we’ll be more ready the next time because of this tournament.”
Brianna Brown led Republic with 14 points and Lane added 11.
Cruz tallied a season-high eight points for the Tigers (3-6).
Brewster (6-2) beat Okanogan (7-2) 60-43 to win the tournament championship.
Brewster 71, Tonasket 40
BREWSTER – The score didn’t tell the story at all for the Tigers after a 31-point loss to the tournament hosts in Thursday’s opening round.
Tonasket stayed within 13 points of the team that likely would have won the state 2B championship last year were it not for an ill-timed teamwide case of the flu. Utt scored 20 points, all in the first three quarters, as the Tigers were able to play the game at the pace they wanted and create some disruption with their defense.
“The girls were actually a bit bubbly in the locker room after the game,” Larson said. “It’s not that we don’t know we lost by 31 points. But they realize, and talked about, the fact that it was the best they’d ever played against Brewster. A lot of the game was the best we’d played all year.
“It’s a huge step for them to realize how well they played, no matter the score, and take something positive to move forward with.”
Brewster, which returned all but one starter from last year’s state fourth-place team, finally pulled away for good as Chandler Smith hit three second-half 3-pointers and Becky Mae Taylor drilled another trey and got to the free throw line six times in the second half. Back-to-back triples from Chandler and Taylor turned a 36-23 Brewster lead to a 42-23 edge that the Tigers couldn’t counter.
It was the third straight time the Tigers hit the 40-point mark after not scoring that many in any of their first five games.
Megan Beyers added seven points for Tonasket.
Smith finished with 23 points, Brette Boesel had 12 and Taylor scored 11 to lead the Bears.
Okanogan beat Republic 73-42 in the other semifinal to earn a championship date with Brewster.