WOODINVILLE — Two starters and a key reserve sat on the bench with five fouls. Another backup was gone with a leg injury. The Bothell High School girls basketball team looked like it might wilt in the fourth quarter under Woodinville's comeback.
But they hadn't come this far for nothing.
Bothell held on and outscrapped Woodinville 62-54 Wednesday night in the first round of the KingCo 4A girls basketball tournament, marking a significant notch in the program's ascent from mediocrity.
Bothell had failed to reach a .500 conference record in all but one of the last five seasons, and had not won a first-round KingCo tournament game during that time. This year, under second-year coach Rich Klee, the Cougars (14-7 overall) were 9-6 in conference.
"We just decided as a team we had to step it up, and we had to improve our game," said senior guard Kaitlin McBride, who scored 13 points Wednesday. "This year, we just believed in ourselves as a team, that we could do it."
The breakthrough playoff win came courtesy of smart guard play by McBride, Erin Barclay and Whitney Anderson that survived Woodinville's full-court press, domination inside by 6-foot-2 sophomore Mandy Saintz, and a deep bench.
"We've been a six or seven[-player] rotation team, and we get in foul trouble, and here comes our seventh, eighth and ninth players making incredible contributions for our win," Klee said. "Our bench carried us into the second round of the playoffs."
Bothell plays Ballard in a winner-to-state game at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Juanita High School.
The Cougars broke away from Woodinville with an 18-9 run in the third quarter, and made more free throws in a whistle-laden fourth. The Falcons had no answer down the stretch for Saintz, who scored 13 of her team-high 19 points in the second half, and also grabbed 10 rebounds.
Amanda Best led Woodinville (14-7) with 19 points.
The eight-team KingCo tournament runs into next week. The top two finishers advance to state, with the third-place team getting a chance for a state berth in a play-in game against a Southwest Washington team.
Ballard 50, at Inglemoor 47
Junior guard Kayla Williams scored 15 points as the Beavers (10-11) surprised the Lake Division co-champion Vikings (15-6) to advance to a winner-to-state game against Bothell. Sarah Ena's 14 points led Inglemoor, which plays a loser-out game against Woodinville at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
Eastlake 45, at Garfield 34
Eastlake held Garfield to 24 percent shooting to advance to a winner-to-state game against Roosevelt at 8:15 p.m. Friday at Juanita. Chanieka Williams scored 21 for Garfield (14-7), which plays a loser-out game against Franklin at 4:45 p.m. Friday at Juanita. Sophomore Ellie Martinez scored 14 for Eastlake (12-8).
At Roosevelt 66, Franklin 44
Senior guard Ariel Evans did it all with 16 points, 12 rebounds, seven steals, six assists and three blocks as the top-ranked Roughriders (21-0) stayed perfect. Frannie Hemmelgarn added 15 points for Roosevelt against the Quakers (11-10).