YAKIMA, WA – The Cashmere girls basketball team is once again in the State 1A semi-finals after a convincing 62-41 win over Annie Wright today in Yakima. Hailey Van Lith led the Bulldogs with 29-points, despite missing several minutes in the first half with a bloody nose.
The play happened midway through the first quarter as Van Lith collected the ball at mid-court, she turned and ran smack into an Annie Wright defender. “I turned and she punched me in the nose. I don’t think it was on purpose, just one of those things,” said Van Lith. Cashmere’s MVP returned to play towards the end of the 1st quarter.
Coach Brent Darnell says his team is used to adjusting if Hailey comes out. “It’s rare she comes out for injury, but if she gets into foul trouble, the girls have to adjust their play without her in there.” Darnell said he was particularly pleased at how his girls rebounded. “We out-rebounded them 49-to-27 and a lot of those were offensive rebounds. That’s what we talk about. We stress blocking out and getting to the boards to either create second-chance opportunities or get things swinging back on offense.”
Darnell was also happy with his team’s defense. “They (Annie Wright) play an unorthodox offense of creating shots for (Julianna) Walker and (Bella) Spencer, so we told the girls to just stick and adjust,” said Darnell. Walker finished with 21-points, including four 3-pointers.
Cashmere advances to face La Salle in Friday’s semifinal at 3:45 p.m. The Lightning advanced by overwhelming Bellevue Christian 61-21. The Bulldogs faced La Salle during the regular season on December 28th and lost 49-47. Darnell says he expects another close game on Friday. “They’re good. Friday’s are always tough, no matter who you play. But we faced them earlier this year and had a shot at the buzzer to win it. We’ll rest up. Watch some tape. And be ready to come out tomorrow,” said Darnell.
A defensive highlight for Cashmere came in the fourth quarter. Annie Wright’s guard Julianna Walker was driving toward to basket when Ellie Alberts stepped in front, established position and took a charge. The Bulldog coaching staff and entire bench erupted in cheers.
After the game, Darnell admitted he was shocked. “I’ve been trying to get Ellie (Alberts) to take a charge all year! I was in shock, talking with the girls after the game in the locker room, I actually complimented Ellie on taking a charge (laughing).”
Alberts says her coach’s words rang in her head. “He (Darnell) kept telling me all season to take a charge and that was my first one. I kept getting in and putting my hands up and getting a foul. Finally I took it and everyone was happy,” said Alberts.