(Wenatchee, WA)…The Cashmere Bulldogs battled in a low-scoring, defensive contest with Mt. Baker Saturday in the 1A Regional basketball tournament at Wenatchee High School. In the end, junior Cami Knishka found a way to push Cashmere over the top with a 3-pointer with 16.4-seconds left and the Bulldogs beat the Mountaineers 36-34.
Trailing 34-32, Cashmere had two great chances on the offensive end but Hailey Van Lith’s 17-footer rimmed short and Knishka’s long three also missed in the final minute. It was a defensive play following an inbounds pass that gave the Bulldogs another chance. Mt. Baker inbounded the ball to McKenzie Yost with 24.6-seconds remaining when Cashmere’s Abby Johnson tied her up. The possession arrow pointed towards Cashmere and that’s when Sydnee Mongeon found Knishka in the corner with the inbouds play and Cami’s three put Cashmere up 35-34.
Mt. Baker turned it over on its next possession so all Cashmere had to do was inbound and hang on as the Mountaineers could only foul in the closing moments. Johnson sank the front end of one-and-one free throws with 9.2-seconds left and a desperation shot at the buzzer was short for Mt. Baker and Cashmere survived with a 36-34 victory.
Cashmere coach Brent Darnell said Knishka was the 3rd option on the game-winning play, crediting Mongeon with doing the right thing. “Syd’s (Sydnee) options were Hailey, and she was covered, then Abby, and she was covered, so she should have fed a shooter in the corner and so she found Cami and Cami did exactly what you’re supposed to do and that is catch and shoot,” said Darnell. He said Mongeon deserves a lot of credit, “everybody talks about Cami’s shot. But if Syd doesn’t deliver that on-time and on-target, Cami doesn’t get that shot off. So Sydnee deserves some credit too.”
Knishka finished with 8-points. Abby Johnson had a team high 12-points while Van Lith finished with 8. It was Cashmere’s lowest offensive output of the season since scoring 42 against Okanogan January 13th. The Mountaineers were led by the 14-points of Stephanie Soares.
Soares (6’6″) and her sister Jessica (6’4″) provided a unique challenge for Cashmere offensively. Coach Darnell said it was just as much mental as it was physical. “The tallest girl we’ve faced in the CTL all season was six feet. So facing those sisters was a challenge. It was almost as much getting in our girl’s heads as it was the physical aspect of having to face all those arms and hands trying to drive. But our girls stood up to the challenge. I’m really proud of them and it was a great teaching and coaching moment of how important playing good, sound defense and trying to rebound can be.”
Cashmere improved to 23-0 with the win and await the winner of Wednesday’s game between Columbia (Burbank) and La Center. The Bulldogs quarterfinal game with the winner will tip off at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Yakima’s SunDome.