WALLA WALLA - It proved to be too much here Saturday, in girls District elimination basketball action, for Wa-Hi to run its win streak over Wenatchee to five.
Wa-Hi eliminated the Panthers in last year's district, beat Wenatchee twice in two regular season match ups, and defeated the Panthers last Saturday in the second round of this District Tournament.
On this Saturday, Wenatchee's Caitlyn Miller drained both ends of a one-and-one with 17 seconds left for a 42-38 Wenatchee edge. Mikayla Ferenz answered with a 3, and Wa-Hi had a shot after the Panthers missed the front end of another one-and-one, but couldn't get a good look as the Panthers stayed alive with a 42-41 win.
"Wenatchee is a good team," Wa-Hi coach Jill Meliah said. "To beat them three times is a great feat and a fourth time (in the same season) is difficult."
Both teams showed the wear and tear of being at the end of the two week District Tournament. Wa-Hi got six points from Maddy Sirmon in the first quarter, but trailed 15-10.
Mikayla Ferenz with five, Kate Ferenz with four, and Libbie Jimenez with a triple led the Blue Devils back to a 22-22 tie at intermission. The bright spot on the floor belonged to the Panthers' Kylie Buterbaugh as Buterbaugh hit four of her five attempts from beyond the 3-point arc and scored 14 points in the first half.
"That (Buterbaugh's scoring) is just mental fatigue," Meliah said. "We know she is their only 3-point shooter, and we just lost her. Coming off a crushing defeat (a 46-35 loss to Chiawana for the District title) last night, it's hard to rebound physically and mentally. We struggled all night to get any kind of flow defensively and that correlates into our offense.
"The playoffs are that much harder mentally because they are so intense," Meliah continued. "I'm tired as a coach, and I'm not the one playing those minutes. It takes a toll on you."
A Kiana Molitor bucket with 4:52 in the third gave Wa-Hi a 26-25 lead. Two Mikayla Ferenz free throws increased the Blue Devil lead to 28-25 with 3:22 left in the period.
The Panthers scored four unanswered points before an Allie Greene three-point play produced a 33-31 Blue Devil advantage, but Michaela George scored with 20 seconds left to knot the score at 33-33 heading to the fourth.
An Alissa Sealby free throw was followed by a George bucket and a 36-33 Panther lead to open the fourth. Wa-Hi trailed the rest of the way. Andrea Hamada's steal and drive to the bucket cut the lead to 40-38 with 2:04 left.
The Blue Devils missed four free throws the rest of the way, with the last three misses being front ends of one-and-ones, but Wenatchee's Miller made her chances and the Panthers had just enough to survive Mikayla Ferenz' trey.
"It's frustrating because in a lot of ways, I feel like we beat ourselves," Meliah said. "We had some silly turnovers (18 total for the game), and we could not make a free throw at the end. For whatever reason, it was not our night and it hurts."
Buterbaugh led all scorers with 18 points, and George added 11 and grabbed nine rebounds. The Panthers host the No. 2 Greater Spokane League seed Tuesday for a berth in the regional.
Mikayla Ferenz led Wa-Hi with 17 points and six assists, Sirmon added eight, and Hamada pulled down six rebounds.
The loss puts Wa-Hi at 15-8 for the season.
"Overall, the girls have a reason to keep their heads high," Meliah concluded. "We were picked to finish fourth in the league. We won a lot of games and had fun doing it."
Megan Thompson, Hamada, Jordan Heiser, and the injured Maddie Jacobson saw their senior campaigns end in the district run.
"The seniors did a great job of setting a precedent for winning, team work, and role playing," Meliah said of her class of 2012. "The young kids got great leadership and learned a lot."
Wenatchee 42, Wa-Hi 41
WENATCHEE (42) - Kansky 0-2 0-0 0, Parker 0-0 0-0 0, Miller 0-3 2-2 2, Stone 1-2 0-0 2, Buterbaugh 7-9 0-1 18, Holzerland 1-2 0-0 2, George 5-16 1-2 11, Sealby 3-5 1-2 7. Totals 17-39 4-7 42.
WA-HI (41) - Greene 1-2 1-1 3, Crawford 1-2 0-1 2, Molitor 1-4 0-0 2, Doepker 0-0 0-0 0, M. Ferenz 5-14 6-6 17, Jimenez 1-4 0-1 3, Sirmon 3-16 2-4 4, Hamada 1-2 0-2 2. Totals 15-48 9-15 41.
Wenatchee 15 7 11 9 - 42
Wa-Hi 10 12 11 8 - 41
3-point goals - Wen 4-8 (Kansky 0-2, Buterbaugh 4-5, Holzerland 0-1), Wa-Hi 2-9 (M. Ferenz 1-5, Jimenez 1-3, K. Ferenz 0-1). Total fouls - Wen 12, Wa-Hi 14, Fouled out - none. Technical fouls - none. Rebounds - Wen 33 (George 9), Wa-Hi 29 (Hamada 6). Turnovers - Wen 26, Wa-Hi 18. Assists - Wen 13 (Kansky 6), Wa-Hi 10 (M. Ferenz 6).