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Wapato finds enough fuel from 3-point-line to put away Deer Park in Class 1A girls basketball regionals

Four different Wolves sink fourth-quarter 3-pointers to allow 1A SCAC champions to emerge with a 63-48 victory in Yakima

YAKIMA, Wash. - In the Class 1A regional’s exercise in something’s-gotta-give, it was Wapato’s high-powered offense that broke free – finally – from Deer Park’s stingy defense Saturday afternoon.

Four different players sank a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, and the third-seeded Wolves canned five long-range shots in the period to pull away from the No. 6 Stags for a 63-48 victory at Davis High School,

Wapato automatically clinches a spot in the state quarterfinals Thursday in the Yakima Valley SunDome.

Wapato, which took fourth place as the ninth seed a year ago, will play the winner of the Seattle-Academy-Montesano loser-out game Wednesday.

The Wolves hadn’t been held under 60 points in two-and-a-half months and were riding a 15-game winning streak. On the other side, the zone-heavy Stags had held their past 14 opponents under 60, winning each of the games.

The going was rough for both squads early with Wapato unable to knock down outside shots while Deer Park itself had fits against the Wolves’ full-court trapping defense. The SCAC West champions led 13-7 after the first quarter.

“They extend their zone well and so they weren’t giving us rhythm shots,” Wapato coach Joe Blodgett said. “In the first half, especially, we were settling. We were setting for the first one rather than running an offense and getting ourselves into a rhythm.”

Wapato finally started to get untracked in the second quarter, scoring a more characteristic 15 points in the quarter while feeding off its defense to take a 28-15 edge into the intermission.

“Once we locked in on defense and quit gambling so much and were a little more disciplined,” Blodgett said. “I think it kind of got us in the rhythm in the game where we could actually go out there and do things.”.

The Stags, though, battled back with 6-foot post Darian Herring scoring 10 of her team-high 15 points in the second half as they trimmed the lead to six a couple times.

“We knew we were in for a challenge with the way this is set up,” the veteran coach said. “When you’re in the top eight you’re going to see a quality team. There are no easy games the rest of the way.”

Wapato (23-1), which has scored 80 or more points seven times this season, found its groove in the fourth quarter. High-scoring senior KK Bass smoothly knocked down a pair of 3-pointers, while Trinity Wheeler, Sofia Alvarado and Deets Parrish made 3-pointers of their own.

It was Parrish’s shot with two minutes remaining that capped the scoring and allowed the Wolves to run out much of the remaining time.

“We have the luxury of having those guards – they can all shoot, they can all handle the ball,” Blodgett said. “When that ball is moving you have to pick and ck and choose who you’re going to close out on.”

Bass, who scored 23 points in the first quarter of a conference matchup, finished with what felt like a pedestrian 22 points to lead Wapato.

“KK is that way,” Blodgett said. “You think she is having a quiet game but she’s so consistent and she’s so steady she just does things in the flow of the game where she scores and you don’t realize she's putting up that many points.”

Bass, announced as the conference player of the year this week, credited the flow of the offense that has weapons aplenty.

“I think the key was to keep the tempo up and the cutting,” she said. “Last week at practice Joe had these garbage cans and you had to crossover to get to the basket and kick it out to the shooters.”

Deer Park will meet 11th-seeded Zillah in a loser-out game Wednesday. The Leopards (18-7), second behind Wapato in the SCAC West, handled Sultan, 72-33, following Wapato’s victory at Davis.