YAKIMA, Wash. -- After a game and a half of uneven play, the Zillah girls faced a crossroads Friday afternoon in the SunDome.
Continue on their current path and wrap up the season right there or fight back.
They chose the latter.
Callie Delp scored 20 points, Samantha Bowman had 11 of her 15 in the second half, and Zillah’s defense forced 28 turnovers to shake off a sluggish first half and earn a 58-43 victory over Nooksack Valley in a Class 1A consolation game.
“We knew we were still in it,” defensive sparkplug Karissa Delp said of Zillah trailing just 24-22 at halftime despite 7-of-40 shooting. “Whenever we get down on ourselves, that’s when we can’t come back. We stayed up today.”
“Our seniors carry a lot of heart and we didn’t want this to be our last game in here,” Zillah coach Brandie Valadez said.
It won’t as Zillah (23-3) will now face Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) for fourth and sixth place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
“We’re glad this is not our last time here,” said Bowman, one of five seniors. “We have a lot of confidence.”
That showed in the second half Friday after Zillah seemingly endured a first-half hangover from it’s quarterfinal loss to La Salle on Thursday.
Part of those shooting struggles stemmed from having top-scorer Bowman on the bench for the final nine minutes after picking up her third foul.
But with the 6-foot-3 forward back on the floor to start the third quarter — and Zillah doing a better job of running it’s offense — the Leopards found their footing.
Down 26-22, Bowman scored seven points in an 8-2 burst that gave Zillah its first lead since 2-1.
“That settled everyone down and helped us relax,” Bowman said of converting on four straight possessions.
“I knew she would take the game into her hands,” Valadez said of Bowman. “When she has to sit for a while, she knows she has to step up when she gets back in there.”
Nooksack Valley quickly tied the game at 30-all, but Callie Delp scored six of Zillah’s next nine points — Abbie Myers had a big 3-pointer — leading to a 41-35 advantage entering the fourth.
“When Callie is determined to get to the rack, she’s unstoppable,” Valadez said.
Zillah kept rolling, opening the fourth with six straight points — four by Bowman — and 12 of 15 to blow out to a 53-38 lead.
Helping the Leopards seal matters was their 11-of-15 shooting from the foul line in the final quarter and 21 of 29 overall, compared to Nooksack Valley’s 10 of 23.
Even with better offense, Zillah’s defense never eased off, forcing 15 of those 28 turnovers in the second half, even though it used more zone defense to protect the Bowman, who, despite four fouls, managed to play most of the fourth until being subbed out in the final minutes.
“We like being aggressive and getting in their faces,” said Karissa Delp, who had all five of her steals in the second half, one less than Callie Delp’s total and part of Zillah’s 19 in the game.
“We adjusted our goal from taking home the gold ball,” Valadez said of the championship trophy, “to taking home some hardware.”
ZILLAH — Myers 9, K. Delp 1, Callie Delp 20, John 1, Samantha Bowman 15, L. Ziegler 2, Elizondo 0, H. Ziegler 0, Ramos 3, Wallace 0, Krueger 5, Kallenberger 2.
NOOKSACK VALLEY — Larsen 5, DeBeeld 2, Stremler 2, Tenkley 2, Katrina Gimmaka 25, Galley 4, Galindo 0, Davis 0, Compton 0, Strong 0, Bird 0, Martin 3.
Zillah 11 11 19 17 — 58
Nooksack Valley 16 8 11 8 — 43
3-point goals—Zillah 3-15 (Abbie Myers 1-4, Bowman 2-5); Nooksack Valley 1-6 (Gimmaka 1-2). Rebounds—Zillah 34 (Myers 7, Bowman 7); Nooksack Valley 36 (Compton 6). Assists—Zillah 4; Nooksack Valley 3. Turnovers—Zillah 10, Nooksack Valley 28. Total fouls—Zillah 18, Nooksack Valley 19. Fouled out—None.