EPHRATA — The Ephrata Tigers got the growl on early with a lockdown, endline-to-endline defense that rattled Ellensburg from the opening whistle in Tuesday’s CWAC district tournament opener.
Avery Mickelsen scored 14 of her game-high 18 points in the first half. Point guard Katelyn Ostrowski finished up with five assists and 11 points and Madison Martin added 10 to the cause and the Tigers (13-9) steamrolled the Bulldogs 65-33 to advance.
The press created three turnovers on the first three possessions and the Tigers jumped out to a 7-0 lead. They expanded it to 18-7 and took a 18-10 lead at the end of the first quarter to take complete control.
“I definitely think we got in their when we came out really strong with a lot of energy,” Tiger senior Sarai Kibby said. “We scored off the turnovers, but then the offense started clicking.
“I think the best thing about tonight is how we blended together. Everybody played their part and the defense was just solid. Now, we’re going into playoff strong.”
Mickelsen agreed. They split a couple of one-point games with Ellensburg (7-14) during the regular season. But Tuesday night in the Jungle, the Tigers left nothing to chance, blowing it wide open with a 39-13 lead at the intermission.
“Our entire team is athletic and fast. We work so hard and go all the time,” said Mickelsen, who finished with nine rebounds. “We saw that our press was killing them, so we ran with that. But then coach switched us to man at the half to give them a different look.
“We’d given up big leads (in the previous two games), so this game everybody came out with the killer mentality. We’re ready to go.”
The Tigers took a three-game winning streak into the loser-out round of the district playoffs. Everybody had a chance to play, everyone contributed. Izzy Buchert finished came off the bench and gave Ephrata nine points and Jamie Oxos had some quality minutes, finishing with six points and two rebounds.
“We pressed and zoned a little bit early and they only scored three points in that second quarter,” Tigers coach Aaron Ross said. “I thought we did a great job defensively tonight.
“We’re playing with that instinct that we’re going to go out and take care of business and hopefully we can carry this into Thursday.”
The Tigers face No. 4 Selah (12-8) and the winner will move on to play top-seeded Wapato at Central Washington University.
“We split with Sealah during the regular season. We’ll watch some film (on Wednesday),” Ross said. “We’ll be ready to go out and play hard and see what happens.”
Ellensburg 10 3 8 12 - 33
Ephrata 18 21 21 5 - 65
Ellensburg - Brinley Hagemeir 9, Morgan Rogers 3, Aucklyn Ness 2, Leah Stueckle 13, Payton Lyyski 2, Kami Hatrick 2, Avery Fisk 2. Totals: 7 4-7 33
Ephrata - Payton Hagy 3, Sarai Kibby 4, Avery Mickelsen 18, Izzy Buchert 9, Jamie Oxos 6, Katelyn Ostrowski 11, Sydnee Pixlee 4, Madison Martin 10. Totals: 24 6-10 65