Lady Rams’ surprise season ends with 3A fifth-place trophy

Wilson’s Lady Rams left it all on the floor for their final 3A State Basketball Tournament Game on March 8. They tried to keep up with a taller and better-rested Bellevue team, but fell short, going down 70-61 to earn the 3A Hardwood Classic fifth-place trophy.

The young, upstart Wilson squad had left the court at nearly 11 p.m. the night before and was back warming up a mere 14 hours later at the Tacoma Dome. Wilson Coach Michelle Birge played every available player off of the bench to try and match the energy Bellevue brought to the contest, but in the end the Wolverines simply shot the ball better for the third-place trophy.

“I told everyone the night before that we were going to need every single player to step up for us and everyone will play,” said Birge. “Because fatigue was really going to be a factor following two 9 p.m. games.”

Wilson (20-7) jumped out to a 17-13 advantage to end the first quarter, as junior Amanda Darden hit a short-jumper with 10 seconds remaining to cap an 11-0 run for the Lady Rams. Bellevue bounced back in the second quarter taking a 32-30 lead into the locker room. The Wolverines stretched the lead to 54-39 at the end of the third, buoyed by 10-of-11 shooting from the free-throw line. Bellevue would go on to finish the game shooting 50 percent from the field, with Wilson managing 37.1 percent.

Junior forward Violet Morrow led the Lady Rams with 21 points and six rebounds, while sensational freshman Josie Matz delivered 14 points. Bellevue (23-4) was led by Shelby Cansler’s 24 points and eight assists.

Matz averaged 20.3 points and 4.7 rebounds for the tournament and was voted to the First-Team 3A All-Tournament Team. Morrow averaged 14.7 points and 10.6 rebounds, earning a spot on the All-Tournament Second-Team.

“Josie’s an incredible freshman,” said Birge. “She’s been there at the helm all year long and been doing some amazing things for us. Violet does a lot of small things for us. When she embraces the go-to role the sky is the limit for this young lady.”

LADY RAMS’ FURIOUS FOURTH QUARTER NOT ENOUGH FOR TITLE SHOT

Things were quiet on the Wilson side of the Tacoma Dome as the Lady Rams struggled in the semifinals for three quarters, and fell behind 26 points before the start of the fourth quarter. It was a fabulous fourth, but the Lady Rams ran out of time, falling to a hot-shooting Bishop Blanchet squad 65-55 in the 3A State matchup on March 7.

Josie Matz scored 12 of her team-high 22 points in the fourth quarter, and Wilson shot 8-for-12 as a team in the period following three quarters under 30 percent. Meanwhile, the Braves were on fire, converting 60 percent of their shots, including five 3-pointers in the first half. Blanchet would cool off to finish at 51.2 percent for the game, but the damage had already been done.

“We never gave in against Bishop Blanchet,” said Birge. “Even though they smacked us pretty hard, we wanted to go out and fight for every inch and for every point to prove that although we’re coming up short on this game, we will be back. These ladies have a lot of heart and desire. We just have to get better at some small things.”

Violet Morrow finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, while sophomore Kiki Knox added 10 points and nine rebounds for Wilson. Blanchet was led by Jadyn Bush’s 22 points and eight rebounds.

LADY RAMS THROTTLE MERCER ISLAND IN OPENER

Josie Matz pulled another clutch performance out of the hat, leading the Wilson Lady Rams to a 58-33 Quarterfinal victory over Mercer Island on March 6 at the Tacoma Dome to earn a return trip to the semifinals of the 3A State Hardwood Classic.

Matz finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and three steals after a first-half struggle where she could only muster four points. Luckily, Wilson owned a 22-12 halftime advantage in a game where Mercer Island never had the lead.

Mercer Island ended the game converting an abysmal 12.7 percent of their shots in the face of stiff Wilson defensive pressure and bad shot selection. Wilson out-rebounded the Islanders 63-40, led by Junior Violet Morrow’s massive 18 rebounds to go along with nine points. Senior Tyra Foster added another 11 rebounds and seven points.

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