TACOMA — During a stoppage in play with about a minute left, Moses Lake senior starters Ellie Mayo, Morgan Yamane, Abby Rathbun and Jamie Loera were able to check out of the game and walk off the court to an ovation.
Hugs were exchanged up and down the bench. Tears were strewn.
It was the end of an era; an era that saw four-year varsity players Rathbun and Loera make the Class 4A Hardwood Classic every year and come away with trophies every year.
“That was important for me and I think our coaching staff and maybe the girls don’t think about it directly right now, but I think they will, how meaningful it is in the Tacoma Dome to be able to do that,” head coach Matt Strophy said. “And really celebrate their successes for four years in our program, so it was huge. I think that was exciting that we were able to do that and really, like you said, soak in that success.”
Moses Lake scored 32 points in the fourth quarter to beat No. 2 Eastlake 71-55 for third place, the program’s highest finish since 2008.
“We just knew that if we worked together on offense and defense — the defense is where its going to start — so on offense if we just kept passing it around and looking for the best shot it worked,” Loera said. “We definitely kept doing that and we succeeded.”
Eastlake led 10-2 early and the game was tied 39-39 after three quarters.
However, all it took was one shot from an unlikely source for things to change.
Loera dribbled into the middle of the lane and flipped a pass toward Abby Rathbun at the top of the key at the end of the shot clock. Rathbun, primarily an inside scorer, spent her high school career expanding her range. In that moment, every shot taken in an empty gym was made worth it.
“I can’t tell you how much time I put in the offseason,” Rathbun said. “I’ve put in so much work there’s no way... I believe in myself and I know the first one I tried to shoot it didn’t go in and so I told myself just relax a little bit more and there’s something about buzzer-beaters and 3s with me. I feel like every 3 I’ve hit almost this year was a buzzer-beater or at the end of the shot clock.
“That’s just my game expanding and all the off time I put in.”
Rathbun’s 3-pointer gave Moses Lake a five-point lead, a lead that grew to 15 as the scoring refused to stop.
Rathbun, scoreless in the first half, had 11 of her 13 points in the fourth quarter. Loera overcame an off shooting night to score 10 points in the fourth quarter and ended her storied high school career with an all-around game of 16 points, eight assists, four rebounds, three steals and one block.
“My teammates worked for us seniors and our seniors worked for our younger kids and it was awesome being able to play like that for our last game,” she said.
Eastlake’s defense did prove bothersome in the first half.
The Wolves jumped out to a 10-2 lead before Madisyn Clark sunk two 3s in the first quarter to keep the Chiefs close. Clark, a sophomore, finally found her footing in the Dome on Saturday and scored a game-high 21 points. Clark’s outburst helped the Moses Lake bench outscore Eastlake’s 24-9.
“I felt a lot more comfortable, especially this game,” she said. “Everyone around me — they’re really supportive with everything.”
After her final high school game, Jamie Loera was greeted by her parents Lori and Javier, big brother Josh and eldest sister Jordan. Jessie Loera was in Las Vegas, Nev. preparing for the West Coast Conference Tournament with Gonzaga.
It’s near impossible to sum up the impact of the Loera family.
Strophy did his best.
“Between Josh and the three girls and mom and dad’s influence and support of all of the programs — football, basketball, when it’s track for Jordan back in the day,” he said. “The entire family buys into Moses Lake Chief athletics and when you have the talent that they have then that makes it even better.
“They’ve put Moses Lake girls basketball on the map, the Loera family has.”
Score by quarters
ML — 10 12 17 32 71
E — 12 13 14 16 55
Madisyn Clark 21, Jamie Loera 16, Abby Rathbun 13, Kiera McPartland 8, Ellie Mayo 6, Morgan Yamane 4, Brecka Erdmann 2, Anna Olson 1
Loera 8 assists, 3 steals; Rathbun 10 rebounds
Class 4A All-Tournament Team
MVP: Lexie Hull, Central Valley
Mia Hughes, Woodinville
Jamie Loera, Moses Lake
Keeli Burton, Eastlake
Lacie Hull, CV
Ellie Boni, University
Jordyn Jenkins, Kentridge
Claire Dingus, University
Gina Marxen, Eastlake
Madison Dubois, Woodinville
Championship: Central Valley 70, Woodinville 39
3rd/5th: Moses Lake 71, Eastlake 55
4th/6th: Kentridge 43, Kentlake 33
Championship: Gig Harbor 51, Garfield 48
3rd/5th: West Seattle 64, Stanwood 58
4th/6th: Kamiakin 57, Seattle Prep 45
Championship: W.F. West 64, Archbishop Murphy 52
3rd/5th: East Valley (Spokane) 47, East Valley (Yakima) 44
4th/6th: Black Hills 51, Lynden 47
Championship: Lynden Christian 50, Cashmere 48
3rd/5th: La Salle 65, Medical Lake 61
4th/6th: Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) 50, Zillah 36
Championship: Colfax 53, Davenport 47
3rd/5th: St. George’s 50, Napavine 44
4th/6th: Wahkiakum 50, Ilwaco 49
Championship: Colton 44, Pomeroy 37
3rd/5th: Sunnyside Christian 70, Neah Bay 42
4th/6th: Almira/Coulee-Hartline 69, Mount Vernon Christian 24
Championship: Gonzaga Prep 54, Federal Way 52
3rd/5th: Lewis & Clark 76, Richland 70
4th/6th: Enumclaw 62, Skyview 57
Championship: Garfield 72, Rainier Beach 63
3rd/5th: Lincoln 64, Eastside Catholic 59
4th/6th: Timberline 64, Kelso 59
Championship Lynden 57, W.F. West 53
3rd/5th: Mark Morris 69, Foss 59
4th/6th: Selah 58, Columbia River 51
Championship: Lynden Christian 82, Freeman 45
3rd/5th: Zillah 76, The Northwest School 73
4th/6th: Royal 57, King’s 46
Championship: Kittitas/Thorp 65, St. George’s 50
3rd/5th: Adna 57, Liberty (Spangle) 41
4th/6th: Brewster 57, Toutle Lake 41
Championship: Sunnyside Christian 69, Almira/Coulee-Hartline 61
3rd/5th: Pomeroy 69, Yakama Nation Tribal 47
4th/6th: Odessa 57, Tacoma Baptist 41