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GIRLS WASHINGTON 2A STATE TOURNAMENT: Lynden's length too much for Clarkston Bantams

Mar. 2—In a matchup pitting Clarkston's signature speed versus Lynden's size and power, the Bantams hung with the perennial title contenders for three-and-a-half quarters before the Lions pulled away to secure a 61-43 win in a semifinal game at the Washington Class 2A state tournament Friday in Yakima, Wash.

Ella Leavitt sank a 3-pointer from the corner for the first points of the third quarter and a 27-26 advantage, but that would be the final lead of the game for Clarkston (25-2).

Lynden (27-1) went on a 20-6 run spanning the third and early fourth quarters to take a commanding double-digit lead.

The loss ended Clarkston's hopes of a state title, but the fifth-seeded Bantams will play fourth-seeded Prosser in a rematch from the opening round at 11:15 a.m. today in the third-fifth place game back at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

"Just so pleased with that first half and to be able to play with a team that's so talented and so big," Clarkston coach Debbie Sobotta said. "I was just so proud of the girls for playing with physicality and doing what they could to disrupt what Lynden wanted to do."

Combs sparks Bantams

After Lynden scored the game's first six points, Clarkston got rolling when Jaelyn McCormack-Marks executed a spin move and a putback for the team's first points.

Lynden scored the next two buckets, but Clarkston ended the first quarter on a 9-0 run capped by a long-range 3-pointer by Ryann Combs. The junior post banked in the triple from well beyond the arc at the first-quarter buzzer to put the Bantams ahead 11-10.

"That might be a Caitlin Clark shot," said Sobotta, referring to the superstar guard for the Iowa Hawkeyes who recently became the NCAA's all-time leading scorer and is known for her impeccable range.

Combs, not normally Clarkston's top scorer, finished with a team-high 10 points off the bench.

She provided a spark on a night where the Bantams' usual leaders struggled from the floor.

"When I saw her getting ready to shoot that shot, I just had a feeling it was going in because she is a good shooter," Sobotta said. "We ask Ryann to do a lot of other things that aren't always leading the points."

Rebounds tell the tale

Lynden's bigs proved to be too much to handle in the second half.

The Lions' roster features five players who are 5-foot-10 or taller, including three who are 6-1 or taller.

Two of those — 6-2 post Payton Mills and 6-1 guard Finley Parcher — were the difference-makers.

Mills led the way with an 18-point, 12-rebound double-double with many of her points either coming on second-chance putbacks or at the free-throw line after getting fouled in the paint.

Parcher, who Sobotta said is already receiving NCAA Division I scholarship offers as a freshman, added 13 points and six boards.

As a team, Lynden more-than doubled up the smaller Clarkston squad in the rebounding column, 52 to 25.

Clarkston tried to counter its size disadvantage with its usually torrid 3-point shooting, but the shots weren't falling on Friday. The Bantams shot just 5-of-28 (17.9%) from beyond the arc.

"The offensive boards just killed us," Sobotta said. "There were times Ella Leavitt, our strongest post player physically, is just pushing on their big, and she's just pushing and pushing and in the right position and she just kind of goes through Ella. That's how big she was.

"I could not ask more for the girls and how hard they worked."

Preslee Dempsey tallied eight points and Leavitt added six for the Bantams. McCormack-Marks had four steals and five rebounds.

What's next

The Bantams still have a shot at heading home with a trophy.

They also have a shot at redemption.

Prosser is the only team other than Lynden to defeat Clarkston this season, doing so 49-43 in the opening round.

The winner of the 11:15 rematch will be the 2A third-place team while the loser falls to fifth.

"The good thing is we both had tough games tonight; the bad thing is this will be their third (game) and it will be our fourth," Sobotta said. "We just see it as an opportunity to finish our season with a win and send those seniors out in style."

CLARKSTON (25-2)

Jaelyn McCormack-Marks 1 0-0 2, Kendall Wallace 1 0-0 3, Olivia Gustafson 0 1-2 1, Preslee Dempsey 2 3-4 8, Ryann Combs 3 2-2 10, Aneysa Judy 1 2-2 4, Eloise Teasley 1 1-2 3, Ella Leavitt 2 1-2 6, Alahondra Perez 0 0-0 0, Joey Miller 0 0-0 0, Lexi Villavicencio 2 2-4 6. Totals 13 12-18 43.

LYNDEN (27-1)

Mallary Villars 2 1-2 5, Kalanie Newcomb 0 0-0 0, Degitu Bowler 0 0-0 0, Mya VanderYacht 0 0-0 0, Rilanna Newcomb 0 0-0 0, Jules Slayton 0 0-0 0, Rian Stephan 0 2-3 2, Lexi Hermanutz 1 3-4 5, Haylee Koetje 5 1-2 11, Kiki York 2 3-3 7, Finley Parcher 5 3-4 13, Payton Mills 6 6-12 18. Totals 21 19-30 61.

Clarkston 11 13 9 10—43

Lynden 10 16 18 17—61

3-point goals — Combs 2, Wallace, Dempsey, Leavitt.

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