MOSES LAKE - Wa-Hi's girls played "one of the best halves we've played all season," coach Jill Meliah said of the first half against Moses Lake in the Big Nine District tournament against Moses Lake Friday night.
The Blue Devils and Chiefs were knotted at 23-all at the break in the loser-out game.
But halfway through the third quarter, Moses Lake star Jordan Loera took over and the Chiefs went on to win the game 57-30.
"We played a great first half," Meliah said. "But about four minutes into the third quarter Loera - by far the best player we've competed against in the last few years - went on a 10-0 run, and we were just emotionally and physically drained at that point. It snowballed from there.
"We were doing some good things, but we couldn't hit a shot to save our lives," she said. "We were 3-for-4 from the free-throw line in the first half, and finished 5-for-18. I told the girls it just wasn't our night. Obviously, it's not our night when you have that many shots (11-of-54 from the floor) and free throws, and we couldn't hit the broad side of a barn."
Loera, who has signed to play at Oregon next year, had a game-high 23 points for the Chiefs.
Gabby Anderson, one of just two seniors on the Wa-Hi squad, led the Blue Devils with eight points and nine rebounds. Libbie Jimenez had seven points.
For Anderson and fellow senior Sydney Christensen, their prep basketball careers come to an end, but their contributions won't be forgotten, Meliah said.
"We're very young, but Gabby and Syd had great years," she said of the seniors. "I told the girls it's not about losing those two seniors, their legacies are going to stay with us. They put their hearts and soul into playing, and I hope that shows the younger players they don't have to wait until they're seniors to put their heart and souls into the game and be great basketball players."
The Blue Devils' play as the season progressed also leaves Meliah optimistic for the future.
"We have such a young group, it'll be nice to have so many back," she said. "We'll put in our time this summer and be that much better next year.
"It's always nice to beat expectations," Meliah said of this season, which Wa-Hi finished 4-8 in Big Nine play and 9-14 overall, but defeated Wenatchee in the first game of districts to enter the double- elimination portion of the tournament.
"We played a week longer than anyone thought we would," she said. "Any time you get playoff experience, it's better for the future. Having legitimate playoff experience is only going to help us.
"It really was a privilege to coach these girls," Meliah said. "They're a great group of kids, and they're going to get even better as we grow as a team."
Moses Lake 57, Wa-Hi 30
WA-HI (30) - Klicker 1-3 0-0 3, Jacobson 0-3 0-0 0, Crawford 1-10 1-6 3, Jimenez 3-7 0-0 7, Christensen 0 0-0 0, Greene 0-3 0-2 0, Hamada 0-4 0-2 0, Molitor 2-8 0-1 4, Hodnefield 2-10 0-1 5, Anderson 2-6 4-6 8. Totals 11-54 5-18 30.
MOSES LAKE (57 - Gauze 1-8 1-1 3, Loera 9-17 3-3 23, Kunjara 1-3 0-0 2, Brown 1-2 0-0 3, Gentry 0-2 0-0 0, Sanders 0 0-0 0, Olsen 0-0 1-2 1, Munoz 3-6 3-4 9, Bernson 5-11 2-3 12, Nielsen 1-5 2-4 4. Totals 21-54 12-17 57.
Wa-Hi 10 13 4 3 - 30
Moses Lake 14 9 15 19 - 57
3-point goals - Was-HI 3 (Klicker, Jimenez, Hodnefield), ML 3 (Loera 2, Brown). Total fouls - Wa-Hi 13, ML 16. Fouled out - none. Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - Wa-Hi 34 (Anderson 9), ML 52 (Nielson 11). Turnovers - Wa-Hi 16, ML 19. Assists - Wa-Hi 3 (three with 1), ML 6 (Gentry 3).