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Olympic Trojans march on to Tacoma
Laurie Shaw spent Monday night tossing and turning in bed, unable to get a wink of sleep.
The Olympic High School girls basketball coach was too excited to doze off. Like a kid the night before going to Disneyland, she was already thinking about what’s to come.
Her Lady Trojans squad defeated Kingston High School 44-42 last Monday at Curtis High School (Tacoma) to punch their first ticket to the Class 2A state tournament in 16 years.
“I don’t think its full meaning has really sunk in yet,” the third-year head coach said Tuesday. “There are so many things running through my head. I couldn’t believe it was true.”
Olympic (16-10) will play Tumwater High School (18-4) in an elimination game hosted by Foss High School in Tacoma at 6 p.m. Friday. The Lady Trojans need to pick up two straight wins this weekend to advance to the Yakima SunDome for the final rounds.
For now, the team is savoring the taste of earning a state bid, a feat neither the boys or girls basketball teams at Olympic have achieved since 1995, when the school was Class 4A. The girls team tallied a 1-19 record six seasons ago, but Shaw has since turned the program around.
“People who don’t usually go to our games are congratulating us and cheering us on for this weekend,” said junior guard Jalyn Halstead. “We all wore our district shirts Tuesday and everybody’s been saying great stuff at school so it’s really exciting for everyone.”
The school is currently trying to schedule a bus to drive the band to Tacoma for Friday’s game, Shaw said.
Shannon Jackson, who spent the last four years playing basketball in Japan, is getting her first shot at postseason play in the states this weekend. She said Tuesday that the school is buzzing about the playoffs and that she’s most thrilled for the seniors on the team.
“This state berth is big for everybody all round,” she said. “It means a lot to us, and it’s all new to me so it’s a very exciting time right now.”
The senior post player’s emotions are riding high after she was approached by an assistant coach from Highline Community College following the win against Kingston. Jackson will also speak to Skagit Valley College this week, but added that she’s keeping her options for next year open for now.
Meanwhile, the Lady Trojans will try to use the momentum from their upset win to move forward with their next opponent, Tumwater.
Olympic hosted the Thunderbirds Dec. 29 and lost, 70-42. Although she’s content with the state berth, Shaw said it’s time to move on and focus on the next stage.
“I told the team that it was a nice win, but Tumwater doesn’t care,” she added. “Check your ego at the door. It’s back to work now and the girls know what’s ahead of us.”
The Lady Trojans have won nine of their last 11 games en route to a No. 3 seed in the Olympic League standings. Shaw said her squad will spend this week preparing with new wrinkles in the game plan.
After going 4-6 in December, she believes Tumwater will see a different group from their last meeting.
“We’re not the same team we were in December,” she added. “We’re not playing the same, and we’ve come together as a team since then. Tumwater is going to see a different team this time around.”
Note: Bremerton and Olympic high schools were eliminated in the boys district tournaments Feb. 19. The Knights finished the season 17-7 in head coach Darren Bowden’s first year, while Olympic went 12-12.