Graphic by Skip Smith
Graphic by Skip Smith

After dispatching their rivals, the Orting Cardinals fairly handily in their previous game, the Lady Cruisers would take the long trek to the Olympic Peninsula on Feb. 14th to go to battle with the Port Angeles Roughriders in the second round of West Central District tournament for a berth into the regional rounds of the state tournament.

The Cruisers would keep things close and only trail by 5 at the end of the 1st quarter due mainly to their tenacious 1-3-1 defense that caused 9 Roughrider turnovers in the opening quarter.

The Roughriders would clean things up and extend that lead to 14 at the half and then would distance themselves even more in the second half to eventually take the win, 65-24.

Scoring Stats vs Port Angeles: A. Hutchings 8, H. Rath 8, K. Stewart 4, B. Lucht 2, G. Mervyn 2

The Cruisers would then drop down into the loser’s bracket of the double elimination tournament and take on league foes the Washington Patriots. In the two contests the two teams played this year, Washington came out on top in both, so the Cruisers were looking for revenge.

That revenge came on Tuesday night at Bellarmine Prep High School when the Cruisers would eliminate the Patriots from the tournament with a 34-28 victory.

Kya Stewart would record her 10th double-double of the season leading the Cruisers with 18 points. Brooklynn Lucht would pull down 17 rebounds for the Cruisers.

Scoring Stats vs Washington: K. Stewart 18, H. Rath 8, B. Lucht 7, A. Hutchings 1

The Cruisers would then take on the Renton Indians on Thursday night with another chance to clinch a berth into the regional rounds.

The Indians came into the game with a 21-3 record to the Cruisers 11-13 record.

The Cruisers wouldn’t let that record scare them though.

Eatonville would come out in their 1-3-1 defense and the Indians seemed confused and weren’t sure how to handle it.

The Cruisers would jump out to a 28-22 lead at the half thanks mainly to the play of Kya Stewart. Stewart would rack up 11 points as the first half ended.
“Kya’s mindset the last few weeks has been great, and she brought that same focus to this game. She was hitting shots from everywhere in the first half” head coach Erik Swartout said.

As the second half started, Renton made some adjustments on offense to help counter the Cruisers 1-3-1 defense.

Swartout said, “Renton is a team that thrives on momentum and they capitalized on some quick shots we took”.

The Indians would also key on Stewart and double her just about every time she got the ball in the second half. Swartout would go on to say “Naturally they were going to key on her. Overall, I didn’t think that hurt us too much, Hailey and our guards were still able to be aggressive and make things happen”.

The change in the Indians offensive strategy and their doubling of Stewart would help them pull within 1 point at the end of the 3rd quarter.

The Cruisers would keep things close until late in the final quarter and would eventually fall 56-52 and be eliminated from the tournament.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity down the stretch of that game for a chance to get to the regional round. I’m proud of our girls. The ball just bounced their way a few more times than it did for us. We as coaches are very fortunate to coach some hard working and competitive young women that grew into a pretty good basketball team. We are going to greatly miss our three seniors, Andrea Hutchings, Brooklynn Lucht and Madison Dunbar. The senior leadership that they brought this year was huge in terms of being at every practice and owning their roles. I’m excited to see who steps up next season to fill those shoes”.

Scoring Stats vs Renton: K. Stewart 20, H. Rath 19, B. Lucht 6, M. Dunbar 3, A. Hutchings 2, B. Porter 1