BY TJ COTTERILL
TACOMA — What if you would have told Woodinville High School girls basketball coach Scott Bullock his team would be here, preparing to play for the 4A state championship?
“I wouldn’t have believed you,” he said. “We had two starters back from last year. We had like six girls play the whole way. No way.”
Except now top-ranked Woodinville is the undisputed favorite to leave the Tacoma Dome on Saturday with the gold ball the school’s first state girls basketball title.
And their star junior, Mia Hughes, has looked every bit like the most dominant player of the tournament, leading Woodinville with 23 points and nine rebounds in their rout of No. 6 Glacier Peak, 63-41, in the semifinals on Friday.
Woodinville led by three at halftime in a rematch of the Sea-King district championship, when Woodinville beat Glacier Peak in overtime.
The third quarter? The Falcons rolled behind lanky sophomore guard Tatum Thompson, who scored 17 points, to the tune of a 27-7 run and they ballooned their lead to 29 points early in the fourth quarter.
Thompson seemingly couldn’t miss, scoring on back-to-back possessions including a 3-pointer with 3:20 left in the third to push the lead to 43-30.
“She doesn’t really know how she’s capable of playing,” Bullock said. “She’s going to be such a special player.”
WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE
Woodinville is heading to the state title for the first time since running into a dominant Central Valley, led by Stanford-bound twins Lexie and Lacie Hull, two years ago. That’s because the Falcons finally figured out Glacier Peak’s press that haunted them in the district championship.
It was 27-24 at halftime before Thompson took over, Hughes continued to dominant on the glass and then Jaela Eggers drilled a 3 in a third-quarter onslaught from Woodinville. For the game it made 20-of-44 shots (45.5 percent) compared to Glacier Peak shooting 14-for-49 (28.6 percent).
Glacier Peak was hanging on behind Maya Erling, who hit a 3 in the third quarter to cut Woodinville’s lead to 37-30. Woodinville responded with a 13-0 run, sparked by Tatum Thompson’s heat-check 3-pointer from the left wing, followed by her fastbreak assist to Veronica Sheffey.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Mia Hughes, Woodinville
Hughes followed her 34-point performance from the state quarterfinals with another tenacious effort on Friday, scoring 23 points with nine rebounds.
She lived at the free-throw line, as she’s made a habit of doing in what is her third trip to the Tacoma Dome with the Falcons, going 13-for-17 from the stripe.
“The thing about Mia that sets her apart: her determination,” Bullock said. “We have other kids with more athleticism, but she just plays so hard. You get her the ball somehow and she’s going to get to the rim.”
Aaliyah Collins, Glacier Peak
It wasn’t the prettiest day for one of the state’s most explosive guards, but she was helping Glacier Peak keep pace in the first half, hitting a pair of 3-pointers, too. She finished with 13 points, six rebounds, four steals and two assists (though also six turnovers).
Woodinville advances to the 4A state championship for the second time in three seasons and will play at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.