On a night where nothing went right early for the top-ranked W.F. West High School girls basketball team, it was time for some of the late-game magic the Bearcat sboys have served up this week in the Class 2A state tournament.
W.F. West (23-2) shot 17 percent from the field in the first half.
Just three minutes into the second half, point guard Kiara Steen and forward Erika Brumfield each had four fouls and East Valley of Yakima (20-6) had a nine-point lead.
Then came the fourth quarter.
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Brumfield, who had also been called for a handful of traveling violations in the first half, came alive, scoring three times on post moves. Julia Johnson broke out on the fast break for three layups.
And, with 22 seconds to play, the Bearcats fifth-leading scorer became the hero. Taya McCallum, who had only a single free throw to that point, buried a 3-pointer from the right wing to tie the game at 38-38.
Seconds later, the Bearcats got the ball back on a turnover and Steen fed Johnson for the winning basket of an unlikely 40-38 victory that sends W.F. West to its fourth championship game since 2013.
“I’ve never made a bigger shot,” said McCallum, a sophomore. “It was a great feeling.”
Brumfield said W.F. West didn’t make any changes to their game plan to rally. Late in the first half, the Devils’ Delanea Blevins suffered a knee injury, creating a long delay.
“My dad (a W.F. West assistant) told me during the break, ‘It’s time, Erika, you’ve got to get going,’ ” Brumfield said.
Coach Tom Kelly continued their theme during halftime, when the Bearcats remained on the court instead of going into the locker room.
“And between the third and fourth quarter, especially, Tom told us, ‘Guys way to fight back, but you have to go.’ It was so awesome, it gave us so much energy,” Brumfield said.
When McCallum hit the tying basket, the Bearcats’ energy peaked.
“There was so much happiness and everybody was so excited,” Brumfield said.
There was still another level for W.F. West’s excitement to reach when Johnson dropped in the game-winner with five seconds remaining. East Valley barely got the ball past half court in the time it had left.
The Bearcats secured a spot in Saturday’s 5 p.m. championship game against third-ranked Archbishop Murphy, which beat East Valley of Spokane, 55-48, in the first semifinal.
Brumfield led W.F. West in scoring with 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Johnson scored 11. Fourteen of their combined 23 points came in the fourth quarter. Steen pitched in five points and five assists.
EAST VALLEY (YAKIMA)
NO. 1 W.F. WEST
EV – Andreas 7, Willett 3, Garza 2, Valdez 9, Sylve 15, Hooker , Bivins 2, Ackley
WFW – Vadala 4, Johnson 11, Brumfield 12, Steen 5, Waring 1, Akins, Bennett 2, Turnow, McCallum 4, Henry