(Wenatchee, WA)…On the final day of January, Cashmere leaned on senior Abby Johnson for a last second shot to beat Okanogan and remain undefeated with a two point win. It seemed fitting, then, that Saturday’s 1A Regional playoff game against Mt. Baker would come down to Johnson again.
Trailing 34-32 with 24.6-seconds remaining in Cashmere’s lowest-scoring game of the season, Johnson tied up Mt. Baker’s McKenzie Yost after an inbounds play and forced a jump ball. The possession arrow pointed the Bulldog’s way so Cashmere’s undefeated season still had a chance of surviving. Following a Mt. Baker timeout, Sydnee Mongeon began the inbounds play beneath the right side of Cashmere’s basket. She looked for Johnson, who was covered. She looked for freshman Hailey Van Lith and she was covered. Her third option on the play was junior Cami Knishka in the corner, left. Mongeon’s pass hit Knishka in the hands, chest high and, without hesitation, she raised to shoot the three pointer.
A collective breath was taken by the partisan Cashmere crowd as the ball floated through the air, slowly rotating reversely off the fingertips of Knishka’s right hand. The leather orb imprinted with the Spalding logo (the official game ball of the WIAA) caromed off the inner, right, front portion of the rim and swirled around nestling its way deeper into the white net cord. The true shot was one of a rare few from the field for Cashmere in the game but could be no bigger as it gave the Bulldogs a 35-34 lead with 16.4-seconds remaining.
Following a timeout, Mt. Baker got the ball into the hands of guard Danielle Tyler who scurried up the court as the seconds ran down. Knishka and Van Lith converged as she reached the free throw line, forcing Tyler to change dribbling hands, but double-dribbling in the process. The turnover gave Cashmere the ball back with 14.2-seconds left. After two quick fouls, the Bulldogs brought the ball into Johnson, who collected the Mountaineers’ 7th team foul and went to the free throw line to shoot one-and-one. The senior seemed unfazed as she sank the first to give Cashmere a 36-34 lead. After another timeout, Mt. Baker rebounded the second missed free throw by Johnson with 9-seconds left and hurried the ball up for a last-second, off-balance shot by Tyler as the buzzer sounded. The shot was short and Cashmere had won 36-34 to improve to 23-0 and move on to the quarterfinals of the State 1A Tournament next week at the SunDome in Yakima.
Johnson finished with a team-high 12-points while Knishka and Van Lith each had 8. Cashmere will play the winner of Wednesday’s game between Columbia (Burbank) and La Center. Thursday’s game for Cashmere will tip off at 10:30 a.m. Mt. Baker will play Zillah Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. for a chance to move on.