Clarkston Bantam girls cut down net as undefeated district champions

Feb. 18—The Clarkston Bantams — quite literally — ran past the competition Saturday to claim a Washington 2A district championship and earn a net-cutting ceremony on their home court.

The Clarkston girls basketball team used constant steals, fast breaks and transition scoring to pummel West Valley of Spokane Valley 75-31 in the title game at Kramer Gym and seal an undefeated 23-0 record heading into next week's state tournament.

"This team is something special and it's so great seeing how much we've been able to do this season," said Clarkston senior Kendall Wallace, a string of net in her hand as a keepsake earned by winning a championship in her last game in her home gymnasium.

"Twenty-three-and-0 is a big accomplishment and just feels so amazing, especially with this group of girls," she added.

Clarkston coach Debbie Sobotta was the last Bantam to step up the ladder and cut down the championship net. She swung it around above her head to cheers from the Clarkston faithful who stayed behind after the game to watch the ceremony.

"It feels really good to be able to do that with this team," Sobotta said. "There's a lot of special talent on this team and it goes deep, so to be able to keep putting combinations in that work so well together and to have it pay off, that's such a luxury. I'm just really excited that they were able to pull this off."

Depth a 'luxury'

Wallace led the way with a 15-point, 10-steal double-double to power the Bantams on both offense and defense.

"Kendall's the ultimate competitor and a competitor has to do what it takes to get ready and that's in the offseason, that's outside of practice — and that's what she does," Sobotta said of her team leader. "She's taken her God-given talents and expanded on those with all her hours of work in the gym."

Junior guard Lexi Villavicencio chipped in 14 points, most coming in the second half, and senior wing/post Eloise Teasley added 13 points, nine of them coming before halftime.

Sophomore point guard Jaelyn McCormack-Marks contributed nine assists and eight rebounds, and junior wing Ella Leavitt reached double figures with 11 points.

The stars shined for Clarkston, but they weren't the only ones to contribute. In total, 12 Bantams saw the floor and 10 of them scored.

"No matter if we're on the bench or not, we're just always helping each other out," Wallace said. "And practice is where we get better because we're playing against each other."

For West Valley (13-9) senior Chloe DeHaro led with 11 points, all of them coming at the free-throw line where she went 11-of-12.

An unstoppable fast break

Anyone who has watched Clarkston basketball knows the team's style is aggressive defense and quickly running down the court off of steals and defensive rebounds.

Like a football quarterback throwing a go route to a wide receiver, cross-court passes to teammates regularly result in transition layups as the opposing defense is left in the dust.

One such transition play resulted in a 3-pointer by Wallace to break a 4-4 tie early in the first quarter, and the Bantams led the rest of the game.

"We like to run so we just have that connection that we know someone is going to be leaking out and running and we just look up the court," Wallace said. "It's so fun. I think that's really what set the tone for our team; that's what we're good at and how we've been able to have this great season is we just press and use our (speed). We're not very tall so we use that quickness."

Teasley had a quick-scoring sequence of her own late in the second quarter when she hit a pair of free throws, made a transition layup and drained a 3-pointer all in a 35-second span.

The 3-pointer extended Clarkston's lead to 39-19 and the Bantams went into halftime leading 50-22.

A statement win

Clarkston held West Valley scoreless from the field in the third quarter and continued to pour it on in the fourth despite getting reserves into the game.

Clarkston players always play hard regardless of the score — they haven't had a win closer than 22 points in their last 15 games — but Sobotta said the team was hoping to make a statement to the seeding committee with this big win.

The team will find out today who and where it will play in the regional round of the state tournament on Friday or Saturday.

Clarkston will advance to the regular bracket of the 2A state tournament whether it wins or loses in the regional round, but a win would give them a bye and an extra day of rest.

"It's really hard to beat a team three times in a season no matter what the situation (is), but they did it in convincing fashion, which was part of our goal tonight was to send a message to the committee," Sobotta said.


Chloe DeHaro 0 11-12 11, Isabella Gillespie 0 0-0 0, Cassie Kappen 1 1-2 3, Avery Spunich 1 1-2 3, Avah Cheroke 0 0-0 0, Monroe Cummins 0 0-0 0, Addison McIntyre 3 0-0 6, Willow Burrill 1 0-0 2, Brooklyn Adamson 1 0-0 3, Brynlee Ordinario 1 0-0 2, Macy Osborn 0 0-0 0, River Sulzle-Kaempfer 0 1-2 1. Totals 8 14-18 31.


Jaelyn McCormack-Marks 1 0-0 3, Kendall Wallace 6 0-0 15, Olivia Gustafson 2 0-0 4, Preslee Dempsey 2 0-0 5, Ryann Combs 0 0-2 0, Aneysa Judy 0 2-2 2, Eloise Teasley 5 2-2 13, Ella Leavitt 4 2-3 10, Tatum Sevy 0 0-2 0, Alahondra Perez 4 0-0 8, Joey Miller 0 1-2 1, Lexi Villavicencio 5 2-2 14. Totals 29 9-15 75.

West Valley 10 12 2 7 — 31

Clarkston 22 28 10 15—75

3-point goals — Adamson, Wallace 3, Villavicencio 2, McCormack-Marks, Dempsey, Teasley.

Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, or on Twitter @StephanSports.