It came in waves, and it never stopped.
The W.F. West Bearcats are a state favorite for a reason, and the relentless press defense was a mammoth ocean for Mark Morris’ girls’ basketball team on Monday. And the Monarchs could never get their heads above water.
The tide only receded when the final whistle blew, with WFW up 95-37 in the Southwest 2A District Tournament semifinal game at the Lumberdome.
“They keep bringing in kids off the bench so they’re not tired,” MM coach Sean Atkins said of the WFW press. “They just keep the same pace.”
Mark Morris took advantage of the aggressive press early, and Madison Mosier hit a couple key shots to put MM up 9-5. But an 8-0 run by W.F. West was only halted by a technical foul on the Bearcats’ bench and a pair of free throws on the Bearcats’ bench.
From there, it was all WFW, the press forcing turnovers and converting them into easy points. Libby Bartleson and Madison Mosier, who finished with a team-high 13 points, each picked up four first-half fouls, and Alexis Troy had three, making it near-impossible for the Monarchs to get an offense going. MM went nearly 8 minutes without a basket and went into the half trailing 55-20.
Midway through the third quarter, the Bearcats extended that to 68-25 to kickstart the running clock.
“You have to stick the plan. You deviate just one time, it turns into a turnover,” Atkins said. “Once you get one, they start to stack up on each other, and it gets frustrating.”
The knife already firmly lodged into the Monarchs’ heart, the Bearcats twisted it further with three buckets in the final 30 seconds, including a second-chance buzzer-beater to end the game. This is the way it goes for the Southwest District rivals, who met in three straight state title games from 2013-2015.
It appears the Bearcats are well on their way to the top of that mountain.
As for the Monarchs, their state playoff hopes aren’t squashed yet.
Washougal (17-5) and Mark Morris (16-7) will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Ridgefield. For the second straight year, the playoff bout between the Greater St. Helens 2A League’s top two teams will be a loser-out game.
“The nice thing is everybody left in the field to win the third spot, we’ve beaten,” Atkins said. “They all perked up at that thought.”