WENATCHEE – Elma slowed down Cashmere’s top scorer but couldn’t muster enough scoring of its own in a 47-34 loss in the Class 1A Regional Playoffs on Friday at Wenatchee High School.
The first half was a struggle between defenses with both teams coming out aggressively. Elma went to a full-court press at times while Cashmere was throwing a double team at Elma’s ball handlers once they crossed half court.
The defensive aggression paid off for both teams as the Eagles and Bulldogs kept each others top scorers in check.
Elma’s Jalyn Sackrider had trouble putting up her usual numbers as she was held to 10 points despite having some looks close to the basket.
Cashmere’s Hannah Van Lith, who averages just over 34 points per game, was held to 16 points on 4-of-23 shooting against the Eagles’ defense.
“I thought our team defense was amazing,” Elma head coach Lisa Johnson said. “That’s the best we’ve played defensively. Our goal was to play our game. We did, but we couldn’t get shots to drop in the end.”
Elma only held the lead once all night when a 3-pointer from Kali Rambo put the Eagles up 18-17 with 6:27 remaining in the second quarter.
Despite some scoring troubles, Elma stayed within two possessions of Cashmere for most of the first half. The Bulldogs never led by more than six points in the first two quarters and took a 24-20 lead into halftime.
The Bulldogs’ lead expanded in the third quarter after the Eagles’ offense came out cold.
The Eagles and Bulldogs both shot 2-for-11 in the third quarter, but a 3-pointer from Cashmere’s Grace Hammond and a some extra trips to the foul line helped the Bulldogs to a 34-27 lead after three quarters.
Johnson said she would have liked to see her team take advantage of some cutting lanes when midrange jumpers weren’t falling in the second half.
“We knew they were going to double team or overplay,” she said. “When we were using our backdoor cuts we got some good looks at the hoop, we just didn’t always execute.”
Elma was within striking distance in the fourth quarter until Cashmere began to capitalize on some second-chance points. Cashmere got the edge on the boards by a margin of 31-26 and scored six points following offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter.
Johnson said she feels as if the long drive from Elma might have sapped her team’s energy when the Eagles tried to make their late-game comeback push.
“We were kind of tired and fatigued. A long day of travel caught up with us in not being able to get those boards,” she said.
With the loss, No. 5 Elma will take on No. 13 Overlake, which beat No. 12 Granger.
The loss hasn’t shaken Johnson’s confidence in her team, however. She still thinks Elma is peaking at the right time.
“We’re playing at the peak of our game right now, so we’ll just keep going forward and keep everybody healthy ahead of the big tournament,” she said.