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Regional Girls Basketball: Bearcats Knock Off Undefeated Bulldogs, Earn First-Round Bye

BRACKET BUSTERS: W.F. West Upsets No. 2 Ellensburg 60-47

By The Chronicle

YAKIMA — Hello, rest of the bracket. W.F. West here.

If the Bearcats weren’t on any team’s radar before they certainly are now. W.F. West came into Yakima and delivered a stunning 60-47 upset of previously-unbeaten and second-ranked Ellensburg at regionals Saturday to earn a first-round bye at the state tournament.

The battle-tested Bearcats (18-6) rolled into Ellensburg’s backyard and rocked the Bulldogs in what was evidence of how tough W.F. West’s league, district and grueling schedule really was.

District 4 has three teams in contention (Bearcats, Black Hills, Tumwater), all of which are in the state quarterfinals. It’s a district that has won five of the last seven state titles: Washougal in 2019, W.F. West 2018 and 2014, and Mark Morris in 2015 and 2013.

It’s that level of competition, W.F. West coach Kyle Karnofski said, that prepared the Bearcats for Saturday.

“We’ve played Tumwater twice, we’ve played Black Hills twice, we’ve played Washougal twice,” Karnofski said. “We’ve played a good Woodland team, Rochester, Port Angeles, Fife, Kelso, Cashmere. All those teams are very, very good teams. The adversity for us, we’ve been dealing with that all year. When Ellensburg started pressing and stuff, we didn’t panic.”

In what Karnofski called one of the Bearcats’ best defensive showings for the year, W.F West put the vice grips on the Bulldogs, a team averaging 61 points per game, and held them to their second-lowest point total of the season.

“We were very, very tough,” Karnofski said. “(Ellensburg) is a really good team and they have a lot of weapons. We did a good job trying to make sure they were as uncomfortable as we could make them.”

After being outscored by three in the third quarter, the Bearcats reeled off a 7-0 run to start the fourth, fueled by Madi Mencke’s defensive stop and back-to-back kickouts downcourt, one of which was a last-second assist to Taya McCallum to steal the momentum for good.

“That was a really great stretch for us and something that we need to be able to do, and it was great to see that today,” Karnofski said. “They went on a run and cut it to two, and at no point did our girls seem concerned or panicked or anything. They just kept being super gritty and that’s what we’ve relied on all year. We always talk about fighting through adversity and keep climbing, and today was a huge testament to that.”

Karnofski called it a collective group effort, saying everyone that went in contributed in some way. He liked the energy that the entire team brought, which fueled them to keep battling in the final frame as Ellensburg got gassed. 

McCallum had a breakout game, dropping a game-high 17 points and team-high seven rebounds. Sophomore Drea Brumfield provided 15 points and Annika Waring connected for 14.

“It was really nice to see (Taya) get going again,” Karnosfki said. “That’s a good night for her. Annika had a good night with 14. She hit a couple 3s that were big in the fourth quarter. It was good to see Drea get after it a little bit. She was six of six from the line.”

Karnofski also praised the defensive efforts of Maggie Vadala and Mencke.

The Bearcats earn a first-round bye and will face the winner of Black Hills-West Valley Spokane in the state quarterfinals at 2 p.m., Thursday, at the SunDome in Yakima. Karnofski said the difference between starting with a loser-out game Wednesday and beginning with a bye on Thursday is significant.

“By the time you play four days in a row, it’s very difficult,” Karnofski said. “People are tired, shots aren’t always falling like they used to. Any time you can get a bye and save your legs one extra day running up 94 feet for 32 minutes, that’s a huge blessing for us. We worked very hard to get to that point, so we’re definitely hoping to use that to our advantage.”

At Yakima

BEARCATS 60, BULLDOGS 47

W.F. West        11    15    13    21    —60

Ellensburg        6    12    16    13    —47

    W.F. West (60) — T. McCallum 17, Brumfield 15, Waring 14, Mencke 5, K. McCallum 5, Vadala 4

    FG: N/A FT: N/A Reb. N/A

    Ellensburg (47) — Hagemeier 15, Anderson 10, Phillip 9

    FG:N/A FT: N/A Reb. N/A

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