Ali Forde drives Woodinville to Tacoma | 4A Girls
The Falcons junior nearly had a triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine steals in a 65-41 victory over Mount Rainier.
Special to The Seattle Times
KENMORE — Ali Forde's focus was razor sharp, but her hands were everywhere.
The 6-foot-1 Woodinville junior made sure to get a finger on every ball that passed her way, contesting every rebound, shot or inbounds pass as she dominated Friday's Class 4A girls basketball state playoff game against No. 7 Mount Rainier.
Forde just missed a triple-double, finishing with 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine steals in the 65-41 victory. She added five assists and blocked six shots as the eighth-ranked Falcons advanced to the final field of eight next week at the Tacoma Dome.
"As a sophomore, I honestly didn't realize how important the playoffs were," Forde said. "I've seriously been mentally preparing for this game all week."
Woodinville (20-5) has not been to Tacoma since 2006.
Mount Rainier (21-5) plays Mount Tahoma Saturday at 1 p.m. at Juanita High School in a winner-to-Tacoma, loser-out game. The Rams beat Mount Tahoma by 38 points just 11 days ago in the bi-district tournament.
The Falcons, winners of their last 12, outscored Mount Rainier 41-20 in the second half. Woodinville forced 24 turnovers, including four in the opening three minutes of the third quarter that resulted in a 10-0 run that broke the game open.
Forde defended the Rams' top player, freshman Brittany McPhee. During one stretch, McPhee scored 15 of the team's 20 points. But Forde limited her to just five second-half points. McPhee finished with 18 points and seven rebounds.
One play that illustrated Forde's performance came on a lobbed inbounds pass to McPhee at midcourt. Forde simply out stretched McPhee for the steal, then flipped a behind-the-back pass to a streaking teammate for an easy layin.
"We watched a lot of (Mount Rainier's) film so we knew how they played," Forde said. "I focused on playing good straight up defense on her because she is a great free throw shooter."
Mount Rainier went 0 for 11 from three-point territory while the Falcons drained 8 of 19, including five from resurgent junior Deidre Miller. Miller finished with 15 points and has averaged 13.2 points per game over her last nine games since recovering from her second knee surgery in as many seasons.
"She has been practicing so hard and getting her confidence back," Forde said of Miller. "I'm just so proud of her."
Melissa Gilkey added 14 points and six rebounds for Woodinville.
Mount Tahoma 73, Monroe 62
The Thunderbirds from Tacoma built a huge lead, then held off a furious rally by Monroe. Mount Tahoma (19-5) led 33-8 at the end of the first quarter and by as many as 27, but the Bearcats cut the deficit to 50-46 to start the fourth quarter. The state's leading scorer, Deborah Anderson scored 21 for Mount Tahoma. She averages 28. Six-foot-seven Jessi Williamson added 17 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks for the T-Birds. Suzanna Ohlsen scored 20 for Monroe (14-10).