Girls basketball Wolves stay alive, stop Sentinels

A referee crew wasn't the only thing missing at this game's inception.

Whether it was Sequim's pressure defense, a string of bad luck or missing their top scorer, the Steilacoom Sentinels simply couldn't find the bottom of the basket last weekend.

That's the good news for Sequim's Wolves, who advance to the West Central District semifinal Feb. 27 at Foss High School after topping Steilacoom 49-38 Saturday night.

The bad news? They'll take on Nisqually League powerhouse Eatonville that night.

"I told (the players) to come in ready for a couple of hard practices Monday and Tuesday. Everything's got to fall on Wednesday," Sequim coach Lisa Corbit said, following the Wolves' big win. "Everything's got to click and come together. But I think they're peaking at the right time. This is what we worked toward all season."

On Saturday, the look of relief on her face and the good vibes from the Wolves' players was the proof. Laine Briggs scored 13 points and pulled 10 rebounds while Sequim got big contributions from fellow seniors Kelsey Langston (nine points, nine rebounds), Sarah Moores (nine points, seven rebounds) and Brittany Gates (four points, four steals, three assists) to eliminate Steilacoom, the Nisqually League No. 3 seed, from contention and end the Sentinels' season.

Already missing their top scorer Dezeirai Lewis to injury, the Sentinels opened the game missing the basket early and often. Steilacoom missed their first 10 shots and finished the first half just 5-of-29 from the field (17 percent).

On the other side of the ball, the Wolves, led by point guard Yolanda Chinn, pushed the tempo faster and faster, challenging a rather speedy Sentinel club. Despite committing 33 turnovers by game's end, the Lady Wolves consistently beat Steilacoom down the floor, as Chinn and others found teammates streaking to the basket for lay-ins or free-throw attempts.

Only rather meager free throw shooting by the Wolves (14-of-29) and some sloppy play in the third quarter kept the game close.

With the score 21-12 Sequim to open the third quarter, Steilacoom closed to within six points by the end of the third quarter and even reached a four-point deficit late. But Sequim inched further ahead as the game wore on, and when Gates found Briggs underneath for a lay-in and foul at 2:46 remaining, the three-point play gave Sequim a 41-31 lead that effectively sealed the victory.

The win is Corbit's first playoff win in her first season in Sequim.

"A couple things didn't go our way with the refs," Corbit said. "The (girls) have really been focusing on staying together as a team. When something doesn't go right, they pull together instead of letting someone get down on themselves.

"Everyone is staying focused on the team. That's really made the difference in the last four or five games and tonight especially ... they recovered quickly," Corbit said.

They may need that same resolve to tackle the top Nisqually team in Eatonville, a squad that's qualified for the state 2A tournament each of the past 10 years and a team Corbit calls solid in all fundamentals.

The game was delayed nearly an hour after referees scheduled to call the contest never showed; local referees were called in and worked the game instead.

Wolves at districts

With their win Saturday night, Sequim's Wolves take on the Eatonville Cruisers, the Nisqually League champions, Feb. 27 at Foss High School in Tacoma. If the Wolves win, they take on the winner of the Kingston-North Mason/Foster match-up on Feb. 29, a district tourney semifinal. If they lose, they face the loser of the other semifinal and need to win twice to earn one of the district's two state tournament berths.

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