EVERETT — In her words, sophomore guard Miranda Johnson had been waiting to return to the NWAC Tournament for a “century.”
Johnson missed the final two games of Big Bend’s 2018 postseason due to injury.
2019 was worth the wait.
Johnson and fellow sophomore Leah Dougherty combined to score 47 points and top-seeded Big Bend routed Mt. Hood 89-53 in the NWAC Tournament’s Sweet 16.
“I’m so proud of those two and they had great tournaments last year, Leah especially,” head coach Preston Wilks said. “I kind of thought all season long, hey, you know what? These two are going to go back and they’re going to have great tournaments and Miranda wants it so bad.
“I think that’s the reason why she came back for her sophomore year is because she had unfinished business, from my point of view.”
For a brief time, it looked as if that business would remain unfinished.
Mt. Hood’s full-court pressure and offensive rebounding thrust Big Bend into a 13-6 deficit in the first quarter.
A media timeout proved to be the respite the No. 1 seed needed. After the break, the Vikings ripped off seven quick points to tie the game and Kelsey Sorenson scored a go-ahead lay-up to give Big Bend a lead it would never relinquish.
The run ended at 20-0, bleeding into the second quarter, which turned a seven-point deficit into a 13-point lead that continued to grow.
“Just get a stop on defense and then once we got a good stop we just took it from there and then kind of settled down and ran our stuff and turned it around,” Dougherty said.
The aforementioned stuff worked for the duration. Dougherty missed only one shot on her way to 23 points.
“I think I just came out like super focused and I knew what I wanted to do tonight and I had my goals and so I just did everything I could to reach those,” she said.
Johnson scored a game-high 24 points and East Region second-teamer Hannah Wilson posted a double-double of 15 points, 12 rebounds.
The Saints hung around in the first half, however, an Abby Broadbent 3-pointer as time expired pushed the lead to 20 points at intermission. Not content, Big Bend outscored Mt. Hood 27-7 in the third quarter and led 80-40 entering the fourth.
“We just said we’re not going to let down,” Dougherty said. “We’re going to keep pushing no matter what.”
MH 13 20 7 13 — 53
BB 22 31 27 9 — 89
Big Bend: Miranda Johnson 24, Leah Dougherty 23, Hannah Wilson 15, Kelsey Sorenson 10, Kayla Luke 7, Abby Broadbent 5, Anna Yarbro 4, Brynn Brown 1
Mt. Hood: Rachel Watson 12, Tasha Beckett 8, Kassidy Ellett 7, Courtney Jackson 7, Atalina Pritchard 7, Bri Rosales 4, Emily Weber 3, Madison Allen 3, Hunter Boske 2