Unbelievable. Amazing. Unreal.
Sequim’s girls basketball players and coaches were running out of superlatives for their comeback moments after an improbable 54-44 victory Friday night over Foster in a state 2A regional playoff game in Auburn.
Sequim (17-7) shut out the Bulldogs over the final 12 minutes over the game — including the entire fourth quarter — to earn a spot in the class 2A state tournament that begins Feb. 27 at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
“They just kept missing,” Sequim coach Linsay Rapelje said. “Once we went to zone, that gave us momentum. We just kept scoring.”
Scoring, to the tune of a 28-0 run that evaporated a 44-26 Bulldog lead and sent the Wolves to their fourth state tournament in school history.
“Amazing,” Sequim point guard Jessica Dietzman said. “That was insane.”
After a back-and-forth first quarter, Foster — sparked by a full court, 2-1-2 press — went on a 17-7 run that put the Bulldogs up 28-18 by halftime.
Dietzman said coaches advised the Wolves to slow down play and look at options to avoid running into Bulldog traps.
“We have to fight through it,” Ditezman said. “(In huddles, we) talked about not giving up and having fight.”
Precious Serefica hit a 3-pointer and Meera Santos had a putback off a Bulldog miss to give the favored Foster (20-5) squad an 18-point lead halfway through the third quarter.
Rapelje and assistant coach Joclin Julmist figured going to a zone defense — dangerous against a team that had hit five 3-pointers already — might be worth it.
“We said, ‘We’ve got to make a change,’” Rapelje said. “Credit Joclin for that one.”
Seemingly stymied by Sequim’s defensive switch, the Bulldogs went on to miss their next 18 shots and two free throws, and turn the ball over seven times.
The Wolves, led by Hope Glasser’s 15 points, Jayla Julmist’s near double-double (nine points, 19 rebounds) and Dietzman’s backcourt play, seemingly couldn’t miss in the final stretch.
“We knew it wasn’t over until the clock hit zero,” Sequim guard Melissa Porter said.
Glasser sparked the 28-point run with a pair of free throws, the first of a seven-point run by the junior forward.
“We were able to focus on what we needed to get done each time down the court (defensively),” Glasser said. “No threes, no easy buckets and get as many stops as we could.”
Dietzman added a layup and reserve Abby Schroeder sank a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 44-38 with 5:38 remaining.
Kalli Wiker, who had a key block of a 3-point try in the third quarter, hit two of three free throws to further cut the lead, and a Dietzman layup got Sequim within a basket at 44-42.
With 3:32 left, following another Foster miss, Glasser snagged an errant Sequim free throw and put it back to tie the game at 44-44, and a possession later Bobbi Sparks muscled inside for a layup and a 46-44 Sequim lead — their first since an 11-9 advantage in the first quarter.
“(Sparks) is my gritty, defensive player and she always gets the job done,” Rapelje said.
Foster missed its next shot, and Wiker — who was 1-for-8 prior to the shot — sank a 3-pointer with two minutes left to give Sequim a 49-44 lead.
Julmist added a putback on Sequim’s next possession, and Porter and Dietzman added free throws late to seal the win.
“It was amazing,” Porter said. “I’m so proud of my team.”
Wiker finished with eight points and six rebounds.
The Wolves shot 53 percent from the field but committed 32 turnovers — 19 off Foster steals.
Serefica led Foster with 15 points, nine rebounds and four steals. Sydney Brushnighan had 13 points, nine rebounds and six steals, while Kaimyla Nolen added seven points, five rebounds and five thefts.
Wolves vs. Roughriders … again
With the lowest (14th) seed remaining in the state tourney, Sequim takes on rival Port Angeles in a loser-out, winner-to quarterfinals match-up at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, in the SunDome — the third meeting between the league and peninsula rivals.
Port Angeles won both league games this season, topping the Wolves 59-50 on Jan. 8 and 64-54 on Jan. 31.
Seeded sixth in the regional tourney, the Roughriders (20-4) advanced to the state tourney despite a 61-35 loss to third-seeded Clarkston on Feb. 23 in Richland.
Against Clarkston, the Riders connected on just 12 of 48 shots from the floor, including 6-of-25 on 3-point tries.
“We took early, early outside attempts and were a little jittery when those didn’t go (in),” Port Angeles coach Michael Poindexter said.
Poindexter said the team will focus on overall effort and offense before facing Sequim.
“We are moving on to Sequim, who is coming off the big win, and we better fix our offensive approach and our effort because Wednesday is coming soon,” Poindexter said over the weekend.
“We need to play a little bit angry. We don’t need to forget this game, but we need to learn a lesson quickly and move forward.”
The winner of the Sequim-Port Angeles match-up advances to take on No. 4-seeded White River — coincidentally, a team both Olympic League squads faced at districts. White River topped Sequim 57-50 in the district quarterfinals before Port Angeles routed the Hornets 53-32 in the district title game.
White River beat Archbishop Murphy 49-41 in the regional round over the weekend to earn a first round bye at state.
Lynden (21-3) is the top seed at state, followed by East Valley of Spokane (19-4) and Clarkston (23-2).
North Kitsap, the Olympic League’s third entry at regionals, was eliminated by Anacortes over the weekend.
Seeking a state win
Sequim’s girls basketball squad has played in three state tournaments but is still seeking its first state victory.
In 1985-86, the Wolves went 1-1 at regionals before dropping two close games to Woodway and Lakeside (Seattle).
Sequim won its regional game the following season over Centralia, but dropped games to Rainier Beach and West Valley (Yakima) at the state tourney.
In 2006-2007, under head coach Greg Glasser — now Sequim’s boys basketball head coach — the Wolves advanced to the state tourney before going 0-2 against Sehome and Ridgefield.
Peninsula Daily News sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman contributed to this story.