Regan Schenck and Maddy DuBois emerged from the Woodinville locker room. Their sad faces reflected the sudden end to the season. Gabby Whalen, the team’s lone senior, made the same slow walk into the hallway, knowing she’d never again wear the Falcon green and white.
This followed Woodinville’s 68-58 loss to Bellarmine Prep last Wednesday at the Tacoma Dome. This eliminated the Lady Falcons from the State tourney, and rendered them with a final record of 19-5.
“I thought it was a great game between two good teams at the State tournament,” Bellarmine Prep coach Kevin Meines said. “The environment makes it a little daunting. But both teams came out and scored more than I thought they would. I thought it would be a game in the 40s.”
Woodinville coach Scott Bullock agreed.
“Usually when you get to the Dome, the surroundings are a little new for the kids,” Bullock said. “It’s hard to shoot the ball. It’s all out defense. But both teams came out shooting the ball well… We scored enough points to win the game. It was an excellent game.”
Bellarmine jumped out to an early 10 point lead behind the staunch play of center Shalyse Smith. Her length and athleticism was creating havoc inside.
But Woodinville battled back. The Falcons broke a full court press numerous times with a transition game that produced lay-ins. This complemented the hot shooting of Maddy DuBois, who hit 5 of 6 shots in the first half. Her three pointer with a minute left in the second quarter gave Woodinville a 29-27 lead.
The Falcons went into halftime training 33-29. They were well aware of the stellar Shalyse Smith.
“Their post was probably the best player we’ve played against all year,” Regan Schenck said. “She’s very talented. We played really good defense against her, but she’s one of those players that can make something out of nothing.”
“We watched as much film on her as possible, but honestly we can’t watch film on that,” Gabby Whalen said. “You just have to go out there and adjust to what you see and get more physical.”
The Falcons opened up the third quarter with a Madison Lundquist baseline jumper that cut the deficit to 33-31. But then Prep went on a 10-0 run, led by the precision shooting of guard Madeline Garcia. The Lady Lions held a commanding 43-31 advantage.
But in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, the Falcons made a valiant push. Schenck scored on a breakaway lay in to make it a 52-45 game. Then DuBois hit a three pointer to cut the deficit to 56-52. With 3:30 left, Woodinville came out of timeout with a set play. A beautiful lob pass from Schenck to DuBois resulted in a lay in to make it a 56-54 game.
But back-to-back turnovers committed by Woodinville enabled Bellarmine to pull away with a 68-58 win.
“I think we came out ready to play, but Prep came out ready to play too,” Schenck said. “Both teams battled. We always come ready to battle. We could have done a better job rebounding. Shalyse had some really good boards. There were a lot of second chance opportunities we could have taken away from them.”
The Woodinville girls left the court together and journeyed to the back of the Tacoma Dome arena. One-by-one, they filed into the carpeted locker room in silence. On the other side of the far wall, Bellarmine players were heard celebrating raucously.
For Woodinville, this was a sullen moment. The players took seats upon folding chairs. At the front of the room sat Whalen, the team’s lone senior. She sobbed quietly, her head bowed. To her right, Schenck had removed her shoes and taken a seat. She chomped on some Skittles while staring blankly at the floor.
A moment passed. Then coach Bullock stood before the group with something between a smirk and a smile on his face. He looked devoid of any sorrow.
He told the girls how proud he was that they never stopped fighting until time ran out. He told them how proud he was of the season they’d had. He mentioned the specialness of playing in the Tacoma Dome. Then he motioned toward Whalen. He expressed his appreciation for her influence upon the team. He told her how much she’d be missed. Then he pointed around the room and had each player and assistant coach say something they appreciated about her.
“I’ve seen Gabby grow as a player since the seventh grade,” sophomore Maddy DuBois said. “We could always count on her, and I’m going to miss playing with her.”
Teary eyes gave way to smiles. The mood in the room lightened a bit.
Then the meeting disbanded. Schenck paused to reflect.
“It’s scary, because none of us have played before at the Dome,” Schenck said. “It was like a first time thing. We had never seen this team before, so we were nervous. It took us a couple minutes to get into the game. But once we settled in we were dialed in and we started getting work done. It sucks we didn’t get the win but I’m glad that we played as hard as we did for our final game this season.”
Whalen smiled through tears.
“I’m so happy to be on this team and the relationships I’ve built with my teammates,” Whalen said. “Being the only one leaving is weird. Being the only senior I felt like I needed to be the one to bring everyone together this year. And it’s hard to be leaving these girls since we’re all such good friends.
“But getting to the Dome was a huge accomplishment for us,” Whalen added. “Being Kingco champs meant so much to me. I will never forget that game [against Bothell]. I’ve watched it three times on film already, it’s so weird! But it’s something that will stick with me the rest of my life.”