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Warriors go 1-1 in state B tourney openers
"SPOKANE - The King's West High School girls basketball team Thursday moved itself within one win of its goal of playing in one of today's state Class B tournament games - and the top eight trophy that goes with it.A solid second quarter led by the inspired play of senior Marica Bulette was all the Warriors needed to fend off the Willapa Valley Vikings, 55-41, and advance to the next round of the state B basketball tournament at the Spokane Arena. King's West (21-5 after Thursday's win) played Pateros (18-4) yesterday in a game from which the survivor emerges for today's trophy round.Results from Friday's game were not available at the Reporter's press time, but will be posted on the sports link at as soon as possible after its completion.King's West dominated Thursday's second quarter, outscoring the Vikings 12-2. Tight pressure defense forced many Viking turnovers leading to easy transition baskets. After that second quarter, Willapa Valley never got closer than seven points.The game was huge. We want a trophy so badly, said Bulette, who had six of her game-high 16 points and three steals in the decisive second quarter.As long as our defense is solid, we are pretty good, said King's West coach Tom Oliver. They went out there and stepped it up on defense.Willapa Valley was held to just 29 percent shooting (15 of 51) from the field. The Vikings struggled to find open shots against the tenacious man-to-man defense played by King's West. The Warriors also racked up 18 steals, with seniors Bekah Walker and Natasha Beals swiping five apiece.That's what energizes me, is when I can get a steal and run the floor, Beals said.Running the floor proved valuable as nine of the Warriors' 18 field goals were layups. King's West also built a large edge at the free throw line, hitting 19 of 30 while Willapa was only 7 of 10.Both teams came out running in the first quarter. Elizabeth Sheary scored eight first-quarter points, including two threes, to pace the Vikings. Lindsey Redfern and Beth Grams answered for the Warriors with four points each.After the half, both teams exchanged baskets' and King's West was able to derail any Viking run before it got started.Bulette scored 16 for the Warriors. Redfern and Grams finished with 10 apiece. Willapa Valley sharpshooter Kristen Berry was held to just nine points. Sheary led her team in scoring with 13.Despite the win, Oliver still was concerned about his team's ability to rebound. In their two tournament games, the Warriors have been outrebounded by 17.Rebounding was the point of focus today, Oliver said. It is definitely a concern.Thursday's victory was King's West second in its state B tournament history. Both of the wins came against Willapa Valley, which the Warriors also beat in an elimination-round game of the 1999 tournament.The result left Oliver hoping for another victory Friday to extend what he called a benchmark year for the program.This is a year of firsts for us. We won 15 in a row. We got our first (Tri-District) championship. It's kind of bittersweet, said Oliver. This is our fifth time to state in six years and we've never gotten past Friday. I really want this - especially for the seniors. "