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By WESLEY REMMER
SPOKANE The Kings West Lady Warriors captured an all-time school best fourth-place finish at the 2B WIAA State Girls Basketball Championships, defeating Liberty Bell, 48-43.
Fourth-place tops the schools previous high mark, set by the KW boys sixth-place finish in 2005.
KW (21-6) won three of its four games at the tournament, losing only to eventual state champion La Salle in the second round.
We are very pleased and very proud with this history-making performance, coach Bryan Hanley said. This team achieved every goal it set out to accomplish.
The Lady Warriors overcame a disappointing 4-20 all-time state record, putting history to rest and bringing home an elusive state trophy.
But they hit a major speed bump on the highway to fourth place, losing big to champion La Salle, 57-25.
Theyre solid at every position and very deep, Hanley said of La Salle. They keep coming at you ... theyre a tough team.
La Salle jumped out to a 38-11 halftime lead and never looked back.
But after stumbling against La Salle, KW rebounded with a 45-40 victory over St. Georges. That win ensured the Lady Warriors at least a seventh-place finish.
The seniors stepped up, and we did a lot better in handling the pressure, junior Irene Moore said of the Lady Warriors tournament run.
The La Salle loss snapped a 15-game winning steak and threatened to drain the Warriors confidence, but the players bounced back the next day.
They didnt fold, they didnt panic, Hanley said, adding that he was impressed with his teams resilience following a loss. Our seniors set the standard.
And it was senior SeaTac League MVP Megan Spence who carried the Lady Warriors the entire tournament, averaging 24.5 points per game and scoring more than half of the teams total points.
She scored 27 against the Dragons of St. Georges, helping KW preserve a narrow 33-32 lead after three quarters, thanks in large part to eight Dragon fourth quarter turnovers.
Spence poured in 30 against Liberty Bell the next day, receiving just enough help from supporting cast Irene Moore (seven points), Megan Morris (four points), Brielle Foley (three points) and Breyenne Mosey (three points).
The Liberty Bell win was the biggest in school history and sent seniors Spence and Morris out on the highest note possible.
It was the perfect way to end my senior season, Morris said of last game as a Lady Warrior, adding she felt bittersweet about ending her career.
But its hard to be sad after you win fourth place, she smiled.
Hanley said the Liberty Bell and St. Georges victories were especially gratifying because those were the teams which knocked KW out of the state tournament in 2007.
It was interesting that both those games were revenge games, Hanley said of the history-making victories.
They (the players) recognize they made history. This sets them apart from many, many teams, Hanley said.
As Spence and Morris depart, the door will open next year for a new set of players to step up.
Now they know how it feels to reach that goal, Morris said of the players who will return.
And now-junior Moore, whose teammates call Flash, expects to step into that leadership role.
It was so exciting, to come in fourth, Moore said. Seeing them (the seniors) get a trophy is so amazing, especially considering how far we came from the beginning of the season.