Then two things happened to dramatically change the tone: The Jaguars’ Taylor Buie caught fire, and Ali Forde fouled out.
That combination of factors got the Jags back in the hunt — at least for a few minutes — particularly after Buie hit a bomb from the parking lot with 0:50 remaining to make it 53-46.
Yet the Lady Falcons performed damage control, making 9-of-12 free throws in the last three minutes when they needed them most to stem the tide.
“I never once thought we were going to lose that game,” Falcon coach Scott Bullock said “but they sure made it interesting. Wow, Taylor Buie put on a clinic in that fourth quarter, didn’t she?”
The sturdy 5-5 senior from Puyallup, who came in averaging 25 points per game, shrugged off a 1-for-11 first-half shooting effort to finish game-high with 27, including 17 in a furious fourth quarter that included 4-for-4 from downtown — a couple from way downtown.
Woodinville (22-2) was led by Deidre Miller, who found her stroke early, with a team-high 16.
Moreover, the 6-1 senior grabbed 11 rebounds and was a presence defensively.
Forde was Forde: 12 points and 15 rebounds with eight blocked shots, six swats in the first half to set a tone.
Mackenzie Campbell scored 13, Alexis McLeod went for nine and Kim Frost had seven.
Yet it was team defense, attention to detail — the extra pass in the half court game and boxing out — plus superior quickness that fueled the win and the trip to Tacoma.
Last year the Lady Falcons finished fifth at the big dance.
This year Bullock anticipates a better result.
“What I learned from last year is that the little things make a difference and determine which teams keep moving on. A little good fortune never hurts as well. We need to stay healthy, stay out of foul trouble and of course shoot the ball well. We’ve been solid all year defensively but to keep advancing we’ve got to put a few more points on the board. And as always the girls need to play hard, smart, and together. The most intelligent, toughest, and most together teams will be playing that final day.”