Mules Power Past Indians in State Quarterfinals
By Eric Trent
SPOKANE — Toledo was within striking distance throughout but couldn’t close the gap as the Indians took a 55-48 loss to league rival Wahkiakum in the 2B state quarterfinals Thursday in Spokane.
Fourth-seeded Toledo (23-5) will face the loser of defending champion and No. 8 seed Tri-Cities Prep at 10:30 a.m. Friday. Third-seeded Wahkiakum (20-4) takes on the No. 2 La Conner in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
“They did a good job of every run we made they’d hit a big bucket and we couldn’t quite get over the hump,” Toledo coach Brian Layton said. “They hit their free throws, too.”
Wahkiakum connected on 14 of 15 free throw attempts as the Mules countered every run the Indians strung together with runs of their own to keep Toledo at bay for most of the final three quarters. Toledo, meanwhile, got to the charity stripe just three times, hitting 4 of 6.
Toledo came out hot and led by as many as seven early on, opening up an assertive 15-8 lead, fueled by an 11-3 run to close the first quarter and capped by Kal Schaplow’s mid-range jumper with a hand in her face. But Wahkiakum came firing back as Jansi Merz exploded for seven points through the first half of the second quarter, helping the Mules bust off a 12-2 run and retake a 20-17 lead with four minutes left in the half.
Toledo’s Stacie Spahr’s six points in a one-minute span near the end of the first wasn’t enough to quell the momentum as the Mules kept their foot on the offensive dial. Wahkiakum’s Megan Leitz was fouled on a made 3-pointer, hit the free throw to complete the four-point play and then drilled a 3-pointer as the Mules went into the locker room holding a 31-22 lead.
“Even when we were down by nine we just kept playing and [the girls] never let that bother them,” Layton said.
But as Wahkiakum heated up from long range, finishing 7 of 21, Toledo went cold from deep, shooting just 4 of 23 at a 17 percent clip.
The Mules extended their lead to 11 before a Schaplow bucket sparked a 6-0 run by the Indians that was capped by Greenlee Clark’s back-to-back jumpers as Toledo pulled within five at 40-35 with 6:48 to play. It’s the closest the Indians would get as Wahkiakum drew multiple fouls in the paint and hit six of six free throws in the final two minutes to close out the win.
Toledo’s Central 2B League Kal Schaplow was held to 10 points on the night on 5 of 16 shooting, and the Indians were forced to find offense elsewhere. They found it Marina Smith, who scored a team-high 14 points, and Greenlee Clark, who chipped in 12. Stacie Spahr contributed nine points and pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds.
It’s good for those other girls to get on the stage because they’re going to be back next year,” Layton said. “We believe those other girls can score and we’re going to have some rough nights shooting.”
Wahkiakum was led by Megan Leitz’s game-high 15 points. Jansi Merz was a workhorse down low, tallying 13 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, while point guard Paige Mace added 12 points.
The fourth-ranked Indians (23-5) entered Thursday’s match coming off a 50-48 victory over Colfax in a state opener Wednesday afternoon, after falling to Ilwaco 44-42 at regionals the previous week. Now they’ll face defending champion Tri-Cities Prep in a loser-out match.
“We’re focused on getting a trophy and giving it our all,” Smith said. “We’ll be fine.”
Layton knows the challenge that lays ahead Friday morning, but said he and his team are ready for whatever challenges come their way. The Indians will finish either fourth or sixth with a win tomorrow morning.
“Our goal was to play as long as we can,” Layton said. “If we can get one more win, we get one more day to be together. We don’t want the season to end. We want to bring home a trophy. We just want to give it our best shot.”
MULES 55, INDIANS 38
Toledo 13 9 9 17 —48
Wahkiakum 8 23 9 15 —55
Toledo (48) — Madill 3, Clark 12, Smith 14, Schaplow 10, Spahr 9
FG: 20 of 61 —.328 FT: 4 of 6 —.xxx Reb. 37 (Spahr 11)
Wahkiakum (55) — Mace 12, Merz 13, K. Watkins 6, Leitz 15, Niemeyer 6, A. Watkins 3
FG: 17 of 44 —.386 FT: 14 of 15 —.933 Reb. 32 (Merz 14)