Moses Lake returns to the regional round, this time it’s Woodinville

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Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Moses Lake point guard Jamie Loera drives to the basket against West Valley earlier in the season. No. 4 Moses Lake meets No. 5 Woodinville in the regional round of the state tournament Friday, 6 p.m., at Ellensburg High School.

MOSES LAKE — Abby Rathbun, in eighth grade at the time, watched from her seat in the Tacoma Dome as Moses Lake lost a one-point game in the state semifinals to Mt. Rainier.

Rathbun knew that soon she would be more than a spectator.

Now, four years later, Moses Lake is about to make its fifth consecutive trip to the Tacoma Dome.

“To do that (go to state) every year, I could have never imagined it,” Rathbun said. “It’s something that I know a lot of other people can’t say they’ve done and this will always be very special to me. Every team is different, but it’s so cool that we can come together every year and accomplish the same goal.”

The Chiefs completed their second 20-0 regular season in the last three years and wrapped up another District 6 championship on Saturday. It turned out, the Chiefs needed every one of those 22 wins to ensure a regional game east of the Cascade Range.

Moses Lake had dropped to No. 5 in the RPI poll after Woodinville beat second-ranked Eastlake, but moved back to No. 4 after Saturday’s win over Sunnyside was registered.

The No. 4 Chiefs will “host” the No. 5 Falcons in the regional round of the state tournament Friday, 6 p.m., at Ellensburg High School. The winner advances to the quarterfinals of the state tournament on March 1.

“It’s really nice that we’re not going to have to travel,” Morgan Yamane said. “Either way, we’re going to come out, do our best, and play our game, but it’s kind of nice not having to go all the way to the west side.”

Moses Lake has some familiarity with its opposition.

Woodinville traveled to the same round-robin tournament at Central Valley High School as Moses Lake in late December.

“I just remember they’re all big and athletic and physical,” Ellie Mayo said. “I think it’s going to be a good match-up for us.”

Head coach Matt Strophy echoed Mayo’s sentiments.

“They possess, I think like us, a little bit of everything,” he said. “I think across the board they have good size. They have good strength, they have some speed, they love to run the floor, they attack the basket, they spread some things out. So, like I said, they have a little bit of everything that you have to contend with.”

The Falcons’ leading scorer is freshman point guard Mia Hughes. Hughes scored 24 points in Woodinville’s win over Eastlake in the KingCo 4A tournament championship.

“I definitely have been challenged this year,” Jamie Loera said. “Playing against those type of girls really pushed me to work harder and work hard for my team and within the team and it really gets me pumped and gets my teammates going and then we start our momentum and then we keep running.”

On the interior, Woodinville also has 6-foot-2 Madison Lundquist. Rathbun has gone against her fair share of 6-footers in the post, but this match-up is special to her.

“She played on my summer basketball team, so this one’s a really big one for me, personally, just because we were teammates,” Rathbun said. “I was also teammates with their point guard. I’m definitely excited and it’s going to be a challenge, for sure. She’s strong, she’s physical and she knows how to play basketball, so it’s going to be a good game.”

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