Cardiac Kids take Second at State

  • Written by Derek Johnson
It was four days these girls will never forget.
The Woodinville Falcons, traveling to the Tacoma Dome for the State tourney, began play as a #5 seed. Over the next three days, they’d overturn the brackets like an applecart. Three straight overtime wins bought a ticket to the title game. But it was there, before a regional TV audience, that they’d fall against a colossus in the form of Central Valley (27-0).
Woodinville finished the season with a 22-5 record. By finishing in second place, the Falcons became the most successful basketball team in school history.
TNT Kentridge Woodinville 0001Teammates swarm Madison Dubois (11) after her buzzer-beating three-point-shot to beat Kentridge. (Photo by Joshua Bessex, The News Tribune)Minutes after that final game, there was a faraway look in Regan Schenck’s eyes. The ferocity of her competitive spirit smoldered with frustration. But the point guard insisted she wanted to talk.
“The year means a lot to me, because it was my senior year,” she said. “Woodinville has never gone this far, and it’s kind of nice to end it on that note. I couldn’t have asked for a better year. Or better teammates and coaches.”
But the first round game last Wednesday didn’t start well against Lewis and Clark. Woodinville coach Scott Bullock said he didn’t recognize his kids on the court. Schenck shot two air balls and the team looked sloppy. The Falcons trailed 28-17 at halftime.
But Alena Coomar kick-started the second half with a three pointer, Schenck and Mia Hughes got rolling, and Woodinville outlasted Lewis and Clark in overtime, 58-56.
While the Falcon players celebrated in the locker room, Hughes was noticeably absent. It turned out that the freshman had wandered into the opponent’s locker room.
“Oh God, no comment!” Hughes said with a laugh. “It was just that I was running late, and suddenly oh my God I’m in the wrong locker room! I ran out of there faster than any running I did during the game!”  
Alena Coomar was clearly fatigued -- but smiled bright.
“Especially after last year, coming here and losing to Bellarmine Prep, and being one-and-done,” Coomar said. “Especially us seniors, we needed at least one win in the Dome. Having that comeback and getting the win was really awesome.”
“We play the defending State Champions tomorrow,” Bullock said of a second round matchup with Kentridge. “We’re excited. We want ‘em!”
Thursday’s game saw the Falcons falling behind once again. But Woodinville rose up in the third quarter. Regan Schenck leapt high for a snarling rebound, before zipping down the court like a missile and firing a pass to Nikki Zaback, who drained a 10-foot jumper. Woodinville was up 40-36.
DS2 9953Freshman Mia Hughes averaged 21 points per game during the Hardwood Classic. (Photo by Matt Campbell) The game went into another grueling overtime. Woodinville trailed 54-52 with two seconds left on the clock. The next moment would change their lives forever.
Schenck was inbounding the ball, looking first for Hughes underneath. But Hughes was covered and moved to the high post to set a screen. Schenck spied Maddy Dubois coming open outside and passed her the ball.   
“I came off those two screens and [the defenders] lost me,” Dubois said. “I was like oh my gosh I’m open! And Regan hit me in the sweet spot and I let it go. I could see it was dead on. I was like, that’s good, that’s in! The place erupted, oh my gosh it was crazy! I peed myself a little, I’m not going to lie.”
As the ball swished through the net, the buzzer sounded. Pandemonium broke out in the arena. The entire Woodinville team stormed toward Dubois, mobbing her near half court.
“That was the best feeling ever,” Dubois said. “Everyone was screaming I LOVE YOU! And I was like, I LOVE YOU GUYS! We need to come out to play for each other, and battle. That’s the big thing for us.”
Following the game, Woodinville assistant coach Sam Moscatel looked toward Dubois as she was being interviewed in a hallway by a TV station.
“I couldn’t be any happier for Maddy,” Moscatel said. “She had a little patch where she was struggling. I’m sure all the struggling patches she’s been through was worth that shot she just made. I saw the biggest smile on her face, something I haven’t seen in awhile. She’ll remember that moment for the rest of her life.”
Next day, another tough customer (and a familiar one). The Eastlake Wolves (24-2) were the only thing standing between Woodinville and a berth to the State Championship game. 
There would be no slow starts today, not for the Falcons. Maddy Dubois was suddenly on fire from the perimeter. Mademoiselle Dubois hit on 4-of-5 three pointers in the first half. Alena Coomar knocked down both of her three point attempts. Things were rolling for Woodinville.
DSC 2123Regan Schenck was awarded a Sportsmanship Award by the WIAA following Woodinville's win over Lewis and Clark. (Photo by Derek Johnson)Peril would come in the fourth quarter. Regan Schenck fouled out. Woodinville led by seven with two minutes to go. But the Falcons started clanging free throws. Gina Marxen and Eastlake fought back to tie the game and send it to overtime. For the Falcons, a third OT in three days!
Eastlake soon took a one point lead and had the ball with 36 seconds left. Enter Nikki Zaback. Woodinville’s senior forward stole a pass and raced down the court as fans leapt to their feet. 
“I saw Mia out of the corner of my eye, and I was going to slow down and pass it to her,” Zaback said. “But then I saw Gina [Marxen] and was afraid she’d steal it. So I just said `I am going to go for it!’
Zaback’s lay-in gave Woodinville the lead. And as it turned out, a berth to the State Championship game.
Hughes and Dubois had combined for 54 points. But another big key to the game had been Woodinville’s Katie Minnehan. With Schenck plagued with foul trouble, Minnehan logged a lot of minutes, and did Yeoman’s work on defense.
“So amazing!” Zaback said of Minnehan. “One thing we always tell Katie is that when she comes onto the floor there is a difference. Everyone tells her that, we all know it. Just that energy she brings. We know her girl isn’t going to score when she’s on her. We’re all so proud of her.”
Minnehan smiled when asked about a third straight overtime.
“We can’t do this again,” Minnehan said. “Going into overtime a third game in a row is so stressful. The girls on the bench are always so nervous. Rachel [Moscatel] always says a prayer. But we always say we’ve got a good feeling about this. Who wants this more?”
Minnehan continued.  
DSC 7263Madison Lundquist looks to score against Eastlake (Photo by Matt Campbell) “This whole tournament people have been underestimating us,” she said. “Our fans, we don’t have a lot of them. Girls basketball isn’t an important thing. But it’s nice to prove it to them that we’re as equally good as the football team and gymnastics team. We’re really athletic, we really want to win. We want to go as far as possible. And now we’ve gotten to the State Championship.”
Meanwhile, Coach Bullock said he was wiped out and running on fumes. 
“We played a great game,” he said. “Honestly, that was a fun game. Two good teams to watch. The girls put on a performance. When this game takes you to a low and a high, and a low and a high again, there’s nothing like it. That’s why you play it... To see them play in a championship game, something they’ve never done before, is just fantastic.”
The next night, the toughest of customers. The Central Valley Bears had been ranked #1 in the state all season. They entered the contest with a 26-0 record. Two of their players were bound for Stanford on scholarship. Root Sports was televising the game throughout the Northwest.
From the opening tip, it was clear the Falcons were out of their depth. They had encountered the Colossus, like in the Goya painting. Central Valley jumped out to a 16-3 lead. Chaos and destruction were spreading across the Spanish countryside.  
Alena Coomar’s three-pointer raged against the dying of the light. This cut the deficit to 16-6. But it would never get closer.
By halftime, the deficit was 42-11. Central Valley students began taunting the Woodinville student section across the way with chants. But the Falcon faithful refused to take that laying down. They retaliated with chants of LET’S PLAY FOOTBALL!
In the second half, and to their credit, Woodinville never stopped fighting until the end. Diving for loose balls, hustling back on defense, scrapping for rebounds. The second half was a 28-28 tie.
The Woodinville postgame locker room was somber and tear-filled. Coach Bullock addressed the team. Obviously, what he said will remain private. But he singled out each girl and the specific value she brought to the team. Before long, tears were giving way to smiles.
DSC 2184Maddy Dubois 23 points were critical in the win over Eastlake (Photo by Derek Johnson) “I’m just glad I came back for my senior season for this team,” Jordan Berday said. “I got to play with my best friends. I just love this team so much. We couldn’t have done any better, we did so much.”
“We made history,” senior Madison Lundquist said. “We did something that no Woodinville team, boys or girls, has ever done.”
She wiped back tears and apologized, then continued. 
“I’m so grateful to have played with my sister [Morgan] and some of my best friends. To end the season this far and to make the connections and relationships I have with everyone on the team.
“We  never really expected to get this far in the tournament,” she said. “Coming into today’s game we knew we were underdogs. As we fell behind we knew as a team we wanted to be a team that never lets up. To never hold the body language that we were losing.
“To share such a crazy experience the last four days with people that I’ve been close friends with since I was little... Well, it means everything.” 

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