WALLA WALLA — DeSales found its confidence in Mountlake Terrace.
The Irish played stifling defense and found an offensive identity as well, downing Darrington, 51-37, in the regional round of the girls Class 2B state playoffs last Friday and earning a berth to the Hardwood Classic basketball tournament in Spokane.
It didn’t help, either, that they were re-routed through Portland en route to the game due to poor conditions on Snoqualmie Pass, turning a four-hour drive into a six-hour trek on game day.
Nevertheless, DeSales (18-6) played some of its best basketball of the postseason in the victory after taking a hit to their psyche when senior post Abby Crowley went down with a broken leg in the final game of the regular season.
“They found the confidence that they should have had all year,” DeSales coach Tim Duncan said. “They looked like a confident group, they felt like they belonged and they played like it up there.”
Six-foot post Allison Wujek did her work on the interior, scoring 10 points against the shorter Loggers and pulling down 15 boards, and the attention she grabbed in the low post opened up the perimeter. Wujek finished with six assists and the Irish scored on a massive seven 3-pointers.
And on the other side of some of those assists was Ashlyn Lyons, who found the confidence to hit five 3-pointers en route to a career-high 21 points in the win.
“We’ve been telling them all year that... we’re pretty good,” Duncan said. “Battling through districts the way we did, and going up and battling Darrington the way we did, I feel like they finally realized that, yeah, we are pretty good.”
And now the Irish face Morton-White Pass in the opening round of the Hardwood Classic Thursday at 3:45 p.m. at the Spokane Arena.
Led by first-year coach Darin Allen and in only their third year as a combined program, the Timberwolves enter the matchup at 18-7 with a dominating win over Crosspoint Academy, 63-39, in the regional round.
Junior guards Ashley Kelly (5-8) and Lina Hieronymi (5-10), a German exchange student, each lead the team with 12 points per game.
At 6-0, junior Samantha Eveland is the team’s starting center, but she averages less than three points per game.
Morton-White Pass does not have a senior on its roster.
“Style-wise they’re very similar,” Duncan said of the Timberwolves. “They shoot the 3 and then they have the one real good offensive post that they like to go inside to. It might be like looking in the mirror a little bit.”
Should the Irish defeat Morton-White Pass, they face the unhappy prospect of taking on two-time state champion Reardan in the semifinals.
The state championship tournament continues through Saturday.