TACOMA - With her team trailing by 15 points, Capital coach Colleen Wells gave her team a reassuring halftime pep talk.
“It could be worse,” Wells told them.
Indeed. Capital missed its first 28 shots from the field Thursday against Bonney Lake in the consolation bracket of the Class 3A girls state basketball tournament.
But despite shooting nine percent in the first half and despite being held scoreless from the field for the first 14 minutes of the game, Capital pulled out a remarkable 49-47 victory, outscoring the Panthers 21-8 in the fourth quarter.
“At halftime, I told them they weren’t out of it,” Wells said. “To shoot that badly and only be down by 15 was good. We could still win it.”
Capital, which shot 0-for-16 in the first quarter, got its first basket on Tosha Hollingsworth’s 3-pointer with 2:10 left in the second quarter. The Cougars trailed 25-7 prior to that basket.
Hollingsworth, who missed her first six shots of the game, scored seven points in the final two minutes of the first half, resuscitating the Cougars’ struggling offense. The Panthers, who beat Capital 56-49 at district, led 30-15 at halftime despite shooting a frosty 26 percent (8-for-30).
Capital went 3-for-31 from the field in the first half.
“I really thought we could come back because I thought they’d come out thinking they had it won,” said Hollingsworth, who made all three of her team’s baskets in the first half.
Capital’s hustling defense kept it close long enough for the Cougars to finally find their offense. The Cougars held Bonney Lake to nine points in the third quarter and eight in the fourth.
“We changed our defense,” Wells said. “We put Tosha on Marcel Pounds. Our defense kept us in the game.”
Late in the fourth quarter, Bonney Lake led 45-34 with 4:24 left. But Capital went on a 12-0 run and took its first lead of the game when Kendel Wilkerson swished two free throws, giving the Cougars a 46-45 advantage with 1:07 left.
The Panthers regained the lead immediately on Tiara Killmer’s putback, putting Bonney Lake back on top 47-46.
With 12 seconds left, Alyssa Edenstrom, Capital’s 5-foot-11 freshman forward, drove to the basket for a running jumper, giving the Cougars a 48-47 lead. Aria Goodman hit one of two free throws with 14 seconds left to give Capital its final two-point lead.
Bonney Lake then missed a 3-pointer and a putback in the closing seconds.
“That was the ugliest thing,” a relieved Wells said about her team’s first-half play. “Our kids just didn’t give up.”
Hollingsworth, who came into the game averaging 22.5 points on 48 percent shooting, finished with 17 points after missing her first six shots.
Wilkerson, going 8-for-10 from the line and 2-for-12 from the field, added 12 points.
Pounds, held to two points in the second half, finished with 17 points for Bonney Lake (19-7).
Capital, making its third state appearance in Wells’ nine years as head coach, won its first game at state since 1998. It will now face Yelm in the consolation semifinals. The Cougars won two of three games against Yelm, winning the last meeting, 56-43.
“We know what they do and they know what we do,” Wells said. “They’ll try to stop Tosha. We’ll try to stop Katelyn Smith.”