It was do-or-die for the Redmond girls’ basketball team last Friday night.
After a tough 58-50 loss to Skyline on Wednesday night dropped Redmond from sixth to eighth in the 4A Kingco standings, the Mustangs faced a must-win situation against archrival Eastlake.
A win against the Wolves would keep the playoff door open. But unfortunately for Redmond, Eastlake fended off the Mustangs for a 66-55 victory.
“We didn’t shoot real well, we missed a couple shots and it made a big difference,” said Mustang head coach Dennis Edwards. “They played great. You can’t take anything away from the way they played.”
The Mustangs finished the season at 8-8 in league play and 11-9 overall, which included a second-place finish at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Tournament in late December in Orlando.
HOWLING HOT HANDS
The Wolves simply couldn’t miss in the first half. Led by senior guard Jena Boyle, who had 13 first-half points on 5-of-6 shooting, Eastlake shot a collective 13-of-22 (.591) from the field while the Mustangs were just 9-of-23 heading into the locker room, facing a 35-26 deficit.
The Mustangs led a furious charge in the third quarter to get back in the game and even flirted with getting the lead back.
Late in the period, Redmond senior Courtney Martin scored off of a great feed from point guard Alicia Valentine to cut the deficit to three, 45-42, and then on the next possession post Marissa Pratt laid one in to pull the Mustangs within one, 45-44.
Senior guard Kaitlyn Parrott had six points, all in the third quarter on 3-of-3 shooting.
“It was great to see Courtney make a couple of great passes to (Parrott) and she finished them off, that kept us close,” Edwards said.
FOURTH QUARTER FLAMEOUT
As soon as the clock started running in the fourth quarter, whatever momentum the Mustangs had obtained swung the Wolves’ way.
Eastlake drained three 3-pointers in the first few minutes of the period, including two by senior guard Hannah Ostic, to put the game out of reach.
Eastlake hit seven of nine from the field during the fourth quarter to seal the win.
“The girls did a good job coming together as a team,” Edwards observed. “They were making some great passes, and we played great defense there in spurts… but we needed to win tonight and someone else had to lose.”
Martin, averaging a league-leading 17.9 points per game, finished with a team-high 18.
Marissa Pratt had 11 and Chandler Jones added nine, while Boyle’s 21-point performance, a career best, for Eastlake led all scorers.
Coming into Friday’s game, Boyle was averaging just six points per game and had 12 as her season-high.
Even though the door has closed on the Mustangs’ season, Edwards looked back on the 2008-09 campaign as being a productive and memorable year that proved to be a great learning experience.
“This season brought a lot of positive memories,” Edwards said. “Taking the girls to Orlando for the holiday break was something that the kids will always remember.”
The third-year head coach also noted that the year was trying at times due to clashing personalities and the frustrations that go along with them, adding that his squad really came together in the end — albeit a little too late.
“We learned a lot of life lessons this year,” he admitted. “How to get along is one of them, how to work together as a team is another. Things that will help them down the road.”
After the heartbreaking loss, emotions were running high, particularly for the team’s three seniors.
First-team all-league selection Courtney Martin, Kaitlyn Parrott, and team captain Alicia Valentine all played their final game in a green and gold jersey last Friday night. Having coached these athletes since they were sophomores, Edwards took the time to reminisce on what they have meant to the program.
“I’ve been coaching for 12 years, and Courtney is the hardest-working kid I’ve ever coached,” Edwards said. “Alicia is a great leader and very much a competitor, a great kid. Kaitlyn is a very good athlete, good defensive player, she really wanted it. Just a great group of kids.”