YAKIMA, Wash. -- With her team suddenly facing an elimination game, Zillah girls coach Brandie Valadez didn’t fuss with Xs and Os very much this week. Instead, two themes were brought to a boil.

Bring more energy to the opening tip and stop having slow starts.

And summon more hustle and heart and stop getting outrebounded.

“Our practices were tough, oh man they were tough,” said senior guard Abbie Myers. “Brandie was not messing around this week. But it was good for us because we were really ready for this.”

Unbeaten less than two weeks ago before back-to-back losses, the Leopards were spot on Wednesday night, firing out to a 13-1 start and shooting 55 percent in a 61-35 victory over Cle Elum in the loser-out round of the Class 1A state tournament at the SunDome.

“A better start — that was definitely a focus,” said senior Samantha Bowman, whose double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds led the charge. “We did not let that happen again. We came out really strong and I’m proud of us for that.”

Outscored 37-13 in the first quarter in losses to La Salle and Medical Lake, the Leopards took it right to their SCAC West foe, scoring on the first three possessions with four different players contributing to the 13-1 launching.

“We had some fire under us,” said Myers, who hit a 3-pointer during the early run and finished with 12 points. “We had such a good high and then we hit a little low with those losses. So we knew we needed to get out of it and tonight I think we played our best game together. That start was a big deal for us because whenever we get a good lead we tend to keep rolling.”

Even with three previous wins over Cle Elum, the Leopards knew they would have to keep the pressure on since two of those games were tight. Two things Zillah did well was handle CE’s speed and harassment and not let the Warriors get going from the perimeter.

Senior Anna Kelly led Cle Elum with 15 points and made two 3-pointers but that was it as the team went 2-for-12 from long distance and 12-for-46 overall.

“We didn’t come in overconfident at all because we’ve had close games with them,” Myers said.

With Bowman’s double-double and Callie Delp’s nine boards, Zillah worked hard for a 34-25 rebounding advantage as per Valadez’s demand. Medical Lake, not a particularly tall team, humbled Zillah on the glass 47-28.

“Rebounding and boxing out. We were all about that this week,” noted Bowman, who also had three steals. “We did not get outrebounded tonight and that’s just pure effort.”

Valadez’s crew also got solid bench play with 21 points as part of a stellar 26-for-47 shooting night.

With everything back in form, Zillah (23-2) will now play another SCAC West opponent for the fourth time this season in a quarterfinal matchup against La Salle (20-4) on Thursday at 7:15 p.m.

The Leopards won the two league games 65-49 and 53-51 but La Salle captured the district title 55-50.

“We’ll be out for blood in that one,” Bowman said. “It will take exactly what we did today, which was a great first game.”

 

CLE ELUM — Terrill 7, Lussier 1, Anna Kelly 15, L. Hink 0, Rodriguez 5, Jackson 0, H. Hink 0, Nao. Baker 0, Deline 0, Nat. Baker 0, McBrike 7.

ZILLAH — Abbie Myers 12, K. Delp 0, C. Delp 9, John 5, Samantha Bowman 14, L. Ziegler 6, Elizondo 6, H. Ziegler 5, Ramos 0, Wallace 0, Krueger 4, Kallenberger 0.

Cle Elum 10 11 8 6 — 35

Zillah 20 13 12 16 — 61

3-point goals—Cle Elum 2-12 (Terrill 0-3, Lussier 0-2, Kelly 2-2, L. Hink 0-4, H. Hink 0-1); Zillah 4-6 (Myers 2-2, C. Delp 0-2, Elizondo 1-1, H. Ziegler 1-1). Rebounds—Cle Elum 25 (Terrill 5, Kelly 5); Zillah 34 (Bowman 14). Assists—Cle Elum 4; Zillah 7 (C. Delp 3). Turnovers—Cle Elum 11, Zillah 11. Total fouls—Cle Elum 16, Zillah 15. Fouled out—None.


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