KELSO — Elma’s second-half rally allowed the Eagles to get a chance to overtake Woodland on Friday night, but couldn’t finish in the final minutes.
Down 22-14 at halftime, the Eagles found their aggressive offensive style in the third quarter to tie the game against the Trico League champion Beavers. Elma took a brief lead in the fourth quarter, but went cold for the final 5:50 of the game to fall, 49-41, in a District IV 1A girls basketball semifinal game at Kelso High School.
On Thursday, Elma (15-6) will take on Evergreen 1A rival Rochester in a loser-out contest. The winner of the game will face the winner of the Hoquiam-Kalama contest in a winner-to-regional, loser-out game on Friday.
On Friday, Woodland (22-0) will try to improve on its newly gained regional berth in the district title game against Montesano at Chehalis.
“We put ourselves in a position to win and we didn’t come through,” Elma head coach Lisa Johnson said. “We’re not ready to be done.”
The halftime adjustments by Elma worked well against Woodland, which enjoyed a big advantage on the boards and in momentum in the first half.
The Eagles immediately attacked the paint and driving lanes through the Beavers’ defense, which included 6-foot-1 McKenna Mulder (12 points). Senior Brooke Goldsmith (game-high 20 points) used her dribble-drive to convert baskets and get to the free-throw line. Senior Sydney Smythe added free throws, senior Taryn Farrar and junior Izzy Cristelli scored from the inside and Elma erased the halftime deficit.
Smythe’s 3-point basket and Goldsmith’s driving layup tied the game at 29-29 with 2:02 left in the third and the teams traded field goals and free throws for a 32-32 tie after three.
Goldsmith kept Elma close early in the fourth quarter after Woodland’s Mulder and Sidra Malik converted back-to-back 3-point plays for a 38-34 lead. The senior guard drained a 3-point shot from the wing to close the deficit to one, then Cristelli hit two free throws for a 39-38 lead with 5:50 left in regulation.
“We just happen to be up at the end of the game; (Elma’s) a tough team,” Woodland head coach Glen Flanagan said. “If Goldsmith decided to take over the game earlier, we may not be standing here like this. She was tough to stop. We mixed up our defenses, switching to keep them off-guard and it worked at the end. We just had enough at the end.”
Jordaan Hall’s post-up jumper with 3:55 remaining tied the game at 41-41, but that represented Elma’s final points of the game. Woodland got a second chance off an offensive rebound and saw sophomore guard Jessica Flanagan (12 points) knock home a 3-point shot for a 44-41 lead.
When Malik hit a driving layup for a 46-41 lead with 2:40 left, Johnson called time to stem the tide. The Eagles, however, couldn’t close the gap. The Beavers hit 3-of-6 free throws in the final minutes to close out the game.
“We had untimely turnovers, which were converted into a three and went back down there and turned the ball over again,” Johnson said. “The biggest thing for us is, the second quarter killed us. We got complacent. I’ve never seen us not attack the basket like we didn’t do in that quarter. When we came out at halftime, we told them we had no transition baskets. That’s our game.”
Elma held a slim 8-7 lead after one quarter, paced by 3-point shots by Goldsmith and Maddie Thompson. Woodland had several second- and third-chances in the frame, but couldn’t convert. That changed in the second quarter, a 15-6 stanza for the Beavers. Mulder had six blocked shots in the first half and finished with eight overall, highlighting Woodland’s defensive effort.
Elma 8 6 18 9 — 41
Woodland 7 15 10 17 — 49
Elma (41) — M. Thompson 3, Farrar 2, Goldsmith 20, Cristelli 4, Smythe 5, Hall 5, Doyle 2. FG — 14-55 (.254). FT — 9-17.
Woodland (49) — Grell 5, Flanagan 12, Sorensen 12, A. Malik 1, Mulder 12, S. Malik 7. FG — 16-49 (.327). FT — 14-29.