WALLA WALLA — DeSales begins its first trip to the state playoffs since 2010 tonight when they take on Darrington in the regional round of state at six in Mountlake Terrace.
The Loggers enter the matchup at 18-4 and 10-1 in Northwest 1A/2B play.
Darrington earned the first seed into districts and won in the semifinals before falling to La Conner in the district title game, 44-31.
DeSales is 17-6 overall and finished 9-1 in Souteast 2B play. The Irish took District 9’s first seed into the District 7/9 tournament and went 2-2, falling to Colfax 41-22 in the consolation championship.
DeSales’ hopes of making state were diminished greatly when senior post Abby Crowley suffered a broken leg in the final game of the regular season.
“She handled that as well as anybody could handle it,” said DeSales coach Tim Duncan, who communicated with Crowley via text after the game. “She’s a senior and she just played her last game of the season, and all she could think of was the team and how they were going to do. She just handled it incredibly well.”
DeSales struggled on offense without Crowley, but was able to advance thanks to its smothering pressure defense that held opponents to just 32 points a game in the tournament.
“I think right now the biggest thing is that everybody has stepped up defensively,” Duncan said. “In the sub-regional, our defense was just phenomenal.”
The biggest changes for the Irish with the loss of Crowley came on offense, as DeSales switched to a single-post system and went to combo guard Emily Baumgart in Crowley’s stead.
“I think everyone is trying too hard and trying to fill that void offensively,” Duncan said. “Really, we just need to relax and play our game.”
Allison Wujek leads the Irish in scoring with nine points per game in the post. Guard Ashlyn Lyons is averaging 8.8.
Scouting on Darrington is thin, with most of Duncan’s information coming from coaches who have faced the Loggers, but DeSales should have at least one key advantage: height.
“We’re of the understanding that if we have any size, we can take advantage of them,” Duncan said.
Darrington’s tallest starter is 5-foot-9 forward Jordyn Stafford, who averages 8.7 points per game.
Amy Miles leads the Loggers in the scorer’s column with 11.1 ppg and at 5-8 is listed at post.
Monica Franke (5-8, 8.2 ppg), Cassandra Cousins (5-6, 6.9 ppg) and Riley Anderson (5-5, 5.7 ppg) round out the Darrington starters.
The Irish will depend on Wujek, a 6-footer, to take advantage of Darrington’s size in the paint.
“Alison (Wujek) has got to play well,” Duncan said. “She has to go in and have a good game. If she has a good game, and Ashlyn Lyons goes in and knocks down some key shots, I think we have a good chance.”
The winner of Friday’s game advances to the Hardwood Classic in Spokane, a double-elimination eight-team tournament scheduled to begin Thursday.
A seeding meeting will be held Sunday after the weekend’s games to fill out the Classic bracket.