Kingston girls return to state

Kingston HIgh sophomore Sophia Baetz drives in for a shot Tuesday night during the Bucs
Kingston HIgh sophomore Sophia Baetz drives in for a shot Tuesday night during the Bucs' 51-37 victory ove Steilacoom.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

TACOMA — The Kingston High School girls basketball team is headed to the class 2A state tournament for the second year in a row, thanks to a 51-37 district playoff win over Steilacoom at Foss High School Tuesday.

Senior forward Arissan Ugles and sophomore guard Sophia Baetz led all scorers, putting up the bulk of the Buccaneers’ points. Ugles had a double-double, with 21 points and 16 rebounds, while Baetz poured in 22 and had seven takeaways.

The Bucs play Saturday to determine their seed in the state tournament.

“I think we’re more prepared for this year’s playoffs,” said Baetz. “This year, a lot of girls have experienced it and know what to expect.”

Kingston started Tuesday’s game with an 11-1 advantage, but saw that lead slip away as Steilacoom went on an 11-0 run late in the first and early in the second quarter, to pull ahead, 12-11. The two squads fought back and forth throughout the second quarter, until the Bucs regained the momentum to go into the locker room with a 23-16 edge.

“We just had to stick with what they were doing, and not force things,” said Kingston head coach Kevin Strozier. “We just had to stay aggressive.”

The Bucs did just that, maintaining their lead throughout the second half. With just over two minutes left in the third quarter, Kingston took its largest lead of the game, pulling ahead 37-22. The Sentinels finished the quarter on a 7-1 run, and battled to within seven in the fourth, but never managed to get close enough to smell a lead. Steilacoom was forced to resort to fouls to slow the clock late in the fourth, but the Bucs consistently shot well from the line, and closed out the game on an 8-1 run behind strong free throw shooting.

Despite the 14-point win, the Bucs felt they were rusty after the long break between their final regular season game and the start of the postseason.

“We haven’t played against anybody for a week and a half,” said Strozier. “We had to take what we could get.”

Baetz added that “it was kind of an off game,” for the most part.

“We put in a new press,” said Baetz, “so we need to work out the kinks in that.”

The Bucs face Eatonville Saturday at Foss to determine whether they will be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed going into state. But whatever happens in that matchup, the stage is set: Kingston will be one of three teams representing the West Central District in Yakima beginning March 11.

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