YAKIMA — Poor first-half shooting dug Elma a hole it couldn’t climb out of en route to a 55-25 loss to defending state champion Lynden Christian in the 1A state quarterfinals on Thursday.
In sharp contrast from Elma’s win against Overlake the previous day, where the Eagles started the game on a 12-1 run, it was Elma that fell victim to a 12-0 run in the first quarter.
To compound the Elma’s offensive issues, the Lyncs played aggressive defensively, forcing 18 turnovers.
Elma head coach Lisa Johnson said her players started the game on their heels against last year’s state-title winners.
“Maybe they were a little star-struck with it being Lynden Christian,” she said. “We came out a little timid and we started turning the ball over, which let them go on that big run.”
Elma trailed 17-6 after one period of play and didn’t see the offense improve in the second quarter, with the Lyncs leading 28-10 at halftime. Kali Rambo led the Eagles on the score sheet at the half with four points in the first 16 minutes of play.
In addition to the tough draw of having to face last year’s state champs, Elma faced a top-seeded Lyncs team that received a first-round bye and didn’t compete on Wednesday, unlike the Eagles.
Though she acknowledge that her players were a step slow in the first half, Johnson wasn’t using the bye as an excuse for the loss.
“We go to the Seaside Tournament (earlier in the season) for a reason, so I’m not going to make any excuses for us,” she said. “We looked a little gassed to start, but we got going in the second half.”
The third quarter was Elma’s best offensive quarter, but the Eagles were still outscored 14-10 in the third frame.
Jalyn Sackrider had difficulty providing her usual scoring output and was held to two points on 0-of-8 shooting.
The Lyncs draped Sackrider with 6-foot-2 post Isabel Hernandez and forward Grace Strek. Both of Lynden Christian’s bigs made things difficult for Sackrider and any other Eagle looking to get to the paint, with the Lyncs blocking eight shots in the contest.
Johnson gave credit to the Lyncs for taking Elma’s leading scorer out of the game.
“Sackrider had two points. She cannot have two points,” she said. “They did a really good job of double-teaming her and contesting every single shot she put up.”
Scoring was hard to come by for all Elma players as Quin Mikel led the Eagles with eight points.
Elma won’t have much time to dwell on its loss as the Eagles prepare to face Meridian in the consolation bracket on Friday at 10:30 a.m.
Meridian is coming off of a 41-33 loss to Medical Lake where the Trojans struggled to take care of the ball, committing 21 turnovers.
Elma’s loss to Lynden Christian takes the Eagles out of state title contention, however, Elma can still return home with a trophy.
If Elma can get past Meridian and win the subsequent matchup on Saturday, the Eagles could finish as high as fourth place in the state.
Though her players were disappointed following the loss, Johnson reminded them that there is still a lot left to play for.
“If we win tomorrow we’re playing for hardware and that’s what we’re here for,” she said. “It’s not enough to get here and just play two games, we have to bring something home.”