Playing in arguably the best 1A league in the state, the talented Cascade Girls Basketball team is trying to figure where they fit. Last Saturday at CHS, Cascade held a fourth quarter lead late against defending state champion Okanogan, but let game slip away 51-47.
Doing the bulk on the damage in those final minutes was standout senior guard Kara Staggs, who went 11-for-11 at the free throw line to seal the victory.
"We knew she is a great player and we knew they were a good team even though they lost three games in a row," said Todd Fraker, Cascade head coach. "We got out-executed at the end of the game and I take responsibility for that. I have to make sure to put us in situations where we can get baskets. We went stagnant and then Staggs made some plays."
In the first quarter, Okanogan led 15-12. The Bulldogs expanded that advantage into the second quarter, taking a 25-19 lead into halftime. But Cascade started to chip away in the third quarter as sophomore Eliana Ala'ilima-Daley made a couple baskets as did senior Kelsey Graham.
Sophomore point guard Kaycee O'Brien was key with eight points, including two 3s. Cascade grabbed a 37-36 lead going into the final quarter. In the fourth, leading scorer Sydney Coffin scored six points. With 2:06 remaining, Cascade led 45-44.
Then, Staggs hit a three to put Okanogan up 47-45. Cascade was unable to convert on its offensive possessions late and Staggs put the game away at the line.
"Part of it is we really have not been in a lot of those situations. They have been. Unfortunately, with as hard as the girls played and as much as they put into the game, we just could not get it in the end," he said. "I am really proud of how we played. We went out and stood toe-to-toe with Okanogan. We took more shots, and got more rebounds. But we shot too low a percentage. Then, down the stretch, Staggs at the free throw line was really tough."
O'Brien had 16 points to lead the Kodiaks. Graham had 11 and Coffin 10 and 10 rebounds. Cascade shot 25 percent from the field and was 5-for-9 from three. The team shot 12-for-16 from the line. The Kodiaks out-rebounded the Bulldogs 43-34.
Okanogan was led by Staggs with 18. The Bulldogs shot 35 percent from the field and were 3-for-12 from three. They shot 14-for-14 from the line.
"We didn't get the shots to fall on our end of the floor. I thought the girls played incredibly hard," he said. "All week long, we talked about taking the next step and get to the top level of our league. Even though we didn't win, it validates we are right there."
With the win, Cascade improved to 4-3 in league and 10-3 overall. Okanogan improved to 5-3 in league and 11-3 overall. Last night, Cascade played Chelan (6-1, 10-2). Results were not available before press time. On Friday, Cascade hosts unbeaten Brewster (8-0, 11-0). Next Tuesday, Cascade plays at Cashmere (5-3, 7-7).
"We have four tough games in a row. We have Chelan, who we haven't played yet," he said. "We want to go compete with them, throw them our best shot and see if we can come out with a win. Then, we'll be right in the mix."
Cascade 71, Omak 59
Omak (1-7, 3-11) surprised Cascade with a good first quarter, leading 17-12. But Cascade rallied in the second to outscore the Pioneers 28-17 to take a 40-34 lead at halftime. The Kodiaks expanded the lead in the third quarter, and held on for the win in the fourth.
"They came out and played up tempo and outscored us in the first quarter. We felt like we were deeper. We had a nice second quarter. We just gave up too many points," he said. "When you are playing up tempo, there are more shots taken. I have to realize that as a defensive coach."
Coffin had 24 points and 11 rebounds. Daley had 14 points and eight rebounds. O'Brien had 11 points.
"Sydney was dominant. Daley had a nice game and Kaycee had a big first half," he said. "Up tempo, lots of shots. We want to shoot a better percentage. They had four girls in double figures. We took more shots and free throws. We had 18 assists. This team is so unselfish.
Cascade shot 43 percent on 29-for-67 shooting, including 3-for-9 on threes. They were 10-for-24 at the free throw line. Omak shot 46 percent from the field and was 4-for-9 from three. They had four players in double figures.
"We made some halftime adjustments. Held them in the fourth quarter. I did not feel we were going to run away with it, but the girls made sure we stayed ahead," he said.
Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or email@example.com.