YAKIMA — Elma finished in sixth-place in the Class 1A state tournament after a rough offensive stretch Saturday in the second half led to a 41-35 loss to Bellevue Christian.
Elma shot 5-of-27 in the second half and had a particularly hard time scoring in the fourth quarter, shooting 1-of-13 over the final eight minutes of play. The Eagles looked to work the ball into the post but didn’t find much success as most of the shots they took rattled out.
“If we were able to finish those shots down low I think it would have been a different game,” Elma forward Molly Johnston said.
Clean looks in the low post were hard to come by against the Vikings. Samantha Skaggs and Molly Olson — 6-foot-1 and 6-foot-3, respectively — patrolled the paint and caused difficulty for Johnston and Jalyn Sackrider.
Johnston ended the game with four points while Sackrider had two on 1-of-9 shooting.
Elma head coach Lisa Johnson said she liked the way her players ran the offense in the second half even if it wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard.
“We had easy looks; they would just not go in,” she said. “We had the looks where we wanted them right off the block. A lot of shots were in and out.”
Elma finished the season sixth in the state, placing for the first time since 2008.
Elma got out in transition from the opening tip and began the game with a 7-0 run, forcing the Vikings to call a timeout to settle things down after approximately two minutes of play.
Quin Mikel helped fuel the early attack, scoring five of her 11 points in the first quarter.
The Vikings settled in the second quarter, outscoring the Eagles 14-9.
The Eagles were holding on to a slim 20-18 lead at halftime and played a back-and-forth game with the Vikings in a third quarter that saw Elma’s two-point lead turn into a four-point lead.
Despite the offense grinding to a halt in the final minutes of Saturday’s loss, Johnson still considers this team to be one of the best she’s coached.
“This was awesome,” she said. “It was a lot of fun and it was great with great memories made. We got hardware for our community, and this group of girls is really special.”
Elma’s Kassedy Olson was emotional following the loss and said she’ll look back fondly on her state tournament experience.
“This is something that we’ll never forget,” she said. “We got to hang out with our girls for four days straight, and I’m happy with the outcome.”
Johnston echoed those sentiments, adding that it felt good to still be playing games on the last day of the season.
“Our senior year has been the best year that we’ve had by far,” she said. “Ending our senior year at state with a trophy is the best thing we could have asked for. We played until the last day we could.”
Looking forward to next year, Elma likely will return most of its starters to the lineup. Olson and Johnston represent the only graduating seniors from this year’s roster, and next year’s team could have as many as seven seniors.
Johnson noted that next year’s team could make another run to state.
“They are a group that’s played ball together since they were playing YMCA ball,” she said. “They know where each other is going to be on the court, so that group is going to be special.”