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King's West guns for Tri-District title
"SEATTLE - In the days leading up to today's final of the Tri-District Class B tournament, the King's West High School girls basketball team did what it said it had to do.It also did pretty much whatever it wanted.The Warriors, fresh from sailing through the Sea-Tac League tournament and claiming their ninth straight title, won their second straight one-sided district game Tuesday night, routing Shoreline Christian 57-35 at Ingraham High School. The victory made a reality out of the team's goal of returning to the state Class B championships for the fifth time in the last six years.Tuesday's win puts the Warriors into the district title game this afternoon (3:15 p.m.) back at Ingraham, against Mt. Vernon Christian. Both teams are assured of spots in the 16-team state B bracket in the Spokane Arena Feb. 28-March 3.They spanked us pretty good in the (district) seeding game last year, so this should be a pretty good game, King's West coach Tom Oliver said of today's matchup with the 19-3 Hurricanes.It's been a while since King's West was anything but the spanker this season. Tuesday's spankee, Shoreline Christian (17-6) was the Warriors' 14th straight victim. Of their three postseason victories, Tuesday's 22-point margin was the smallest - and could've been much larger, except that Oliver chose to slow the game's tempo in the fourth quarter to protect his team's lead.We set a goal to play for the (district) championship, and that's what we're doing, said Oliver, in his 10th and final season as King's West's coach. But we've done what we came here to do, which was get to state.Senior Bekah Walker scored 14 of her game-high 18 points in the first half, helping the Warriors break the game open after Shoreline Christian scored six straight to tie the game at 9-all. She hit the game's only 3-point basket to restore the lead to King's West, then followed Natalie Mansfield's free throw with two more buckets for a 17-9 lead. By the time she finished a halfcourt drive with a layup to end the first half, the Warriors had stretched the lead out to 33-19.Our defense was the thing that did it, Oliver said. We got a lot of good shots in transition. Bekah had a great first half, and then everybody sort of picked it up. I really liked our balance in this game.Lindsey Redfern, the only junior in KW's starting lineup, added 14 points and 6-foot-1 Beth Grams had 10 points and nearly as many blocked shots. Marica Bulette had eight points despite being saddled with foul trouble much of the contest.We kept our composure, especially when Marica got in early foul trouble, Oliver said of his senior point guard. The bench came in and played pretty well.It was a total team effort - rebounding, defensively and scoring-wise, Oliver praised.Oliver, whose position as athletic director is being eliminated by King's West after this school year, said it was especially gratifying to know this season - and his tenure at the school - will end with another trip to state.This has been a really fun group for this to happen with, he said. Last year when they went to state, it was really kind of a Cinderella year. This year, everybody expected us to be good, so there was a lot more pressure on them, and they've come through really well.Never more so than in the postseason, when the Warriors hammered both their Sea-Tac League tournament opponents, accepted a bye through the first round of Tri-District and then pounded Grace Academy 77-49 in the quarterfinals. In three tournament games, KW has beaten its opponents by an average of nearly 31 points. "