YELM – Kelso trailed the final three quarters of its girls West Central/Southwest 3A Bi-District Tournament game, but kept the pressure on host Yelm right to the end before falling, 56-49, Thursday night.
With the entire district schedule for Friday and Saturday wiped out because of an expected severe snow storm, it’s possible the game was the Lassies’ season finale. Coach Jennifer Hamilton said she was told 30 minutes before tip-off the game might be loser-out.
Athletic directors met at 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon to discuss the official contingency plan, which could include a reformatted bracket. The updated brackets were not released at press time.
Despite trailing by as many as 13 points midway through the third quarter, Kelso (12-9) went on a 12-4 fourth-quarter run to briefly make it a single possession game when freshman Natalie Fraley completed a three-point play. She scored from underneath while being fouled and made the ensuing free throw to cut Yelm’s edge to 51-49 with 55 seconds left.
“We implemented some last minute stuff the past couple of days and it’s a testament to our younger kids they could keep focus the whole 32 minutes,” Hamilton said. “Also our conditioning. We run a lot and our conditioning was up so we could get our mindset right. We weren’t thinking about breathing, we were thinking about our game.”
Fraley, who also connected on a trio of 3-point baskets, led the Lassies with 18 points – all after halftime. Alexis Kleven also reached double figures with 13.
Maddie Plevyak, Yelm’s leading scorer on the season, was the Tornados’ offensive leader in this game as well with 14. My’Kel Jones and Bayleigh Harder added 11 each.
Kelso took a 5-0 lead to start the game on two baskets by Kleven, a 3 from out top and a quick hoop underneath off an in-bounds play. Yelm (13-8) took the lead for good, though, at 9-8 on a bucket by Lenna Miskimens with 2:09 to go in the first quarter.
“We went into a zone and we weren’t getting out on their shooters and they have some decent shooters,” Hamilton said, also noting that Yelm got more than its share of offensive rebounds early. “We weren’t blocking out very well.”
The Tornados largest lead of the night was their 26-12 halftime edge. Kelso came out of the locker room with a purpose, forcing three Yelm turnovers in the first minute of the second half to create a 7-1 run that cut the deficit to single digits.
“I got on them at halftime and you could see that drive in the third quarter,” Hamilton said. “We switched some matchups and got some steals. They got a little frazzled.”
Yelm built its advantage back to 11 points before Fraley forced a Tornado timeout by hitting back-to-back 3s, cutting it to 39-34. But Yelm scored the final six points of the third quarter and looked like they would pull away until Kelso’s furious late rally.
With 21 seconds left, Jones scored on a backdoor layup to make it 53-49 and Kelso wouldn’t get within a single basket again.
“We just needed a couple more minutes,” said Hamilton.