Lyle/Wishram and Bickleton girls basketball teams were scheduled to meet Tuesday night in Goldendale to determine which would be the Yakima Valley District’s No. 2 seed in Feb. 20 regional play-in games.
The Cougars and Pirates split their Greater Columbia 1B League games, but the Cougars held a 2-1 edge in wins after downing the Pirates, 32-27, last Friday in the opening game of the district tournament.
Now, after a 72-34 loss last Saturday to GCB champion Sunnyside Christian (20-2) in the district title game, Lyle/-Wishram (15-5) needs a win to stay in contention for a berth in the 16-team regional tournament that precedes the state tourney.
Bickleton stayed alive with the same hope by edging Yakama Tribal, 53-52, in a loser-out game last Saturday.
In the first half of the championship tilt, the underdog Cougars hung with the Christian Knights, thanks to a man-to-man motion offense that produced a number of layins and kept the score close.
Sunnyside led 15-10 after one quarter and pulled out to a 21-13 in the second quarter, but L/W cut it to 21-19 with the second of back-to-back 3-pointers by Kiya Childers, with 4:35 left in the half.
The Knights extended their edge to 31-21 with a 3-ball at the 54-second mark, then added two free throws to lead 33-21 with time running out.
L/W’s Lacy Carse made it 33-24 at the half when she sank a long 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
The game got away from the Cougars in the third quarter as the Knights out-scored them 22-2 to mount a 55-23 lead. Keys to the shift in momentum were weak-side offensive rebounding and a tough 1-3-1 zone defense that the Cougars found nearly impenetrable.
Childers and Carse shared team scoring honors for the Cougars with 14 points each.
The Knights won the rebound battle, 44-15, and had four players score in double figures.
“It was a disappointing game but I wasn’t disappointed in the effort,” said Cougars Coach Joe Bales. “We’ve found that we can compete with them until we run out of gas, and then they just steamroller over the top of you.”
In Friday’s opening-round game, defense was the name of the game for the Cougars and the Pirates. Only the Cougars scored more than 10 points in a quarter.
Lyle/Wishram led 12-4 after one quarter, 19-11 at halftime, and 28-19 through three quarters.
“We dominated the first half, they came back and did a nice job in the second half,” Bales said.
The key statistic in the game could be traced to the foul line, where L/W converted 5-of-10 free throws; Bickleton was only 3 for 17.
“That really was the difference in the game,” Bales said.
Childers paced the Cougars with 10 points and six rebounds. Carse and Mae-Lynn Luke each had nine points, three rebounds, and three assists. Luke, moreover, had a team-best seven steals. Ellie Smith had a team-high seven rebounds.