The White Swan Cougars had upset on their minds Friday night at the Arena.
But they didn’t pay enough mind to Okanogan center Jill Townsend, who turned in her second straight dominating performance to carry the Bulldogs into the championship game of the State 2B girls tournament with a 43-33 win over the Cougars.
Townsend, a mobile 5-foot-11 sophomore, scored 20 points, pulled down eight rebounds and figures to be a major force in tonight’s title game against surprising Wahkiakum.
But just as Townsend spread the wealth with some key passes, Okanogan coach Bryan Boesel did the same after the game.
“Jill’s a hell of a player, but she has a great nucleus of talent around her,” Boesel said. “Everybody feeds off each other, but that’s why we’re so good.”
Good enough to be 26-0, although the Bulldogs had to overcome a shaky first half before pulling away at the end.
White Swan (17-8) which was coming off a quarterfinal win over defending champion Colfax, was in striking distance to the end, but was undone by Okanogan’s defense and a nightmarish 4-for-16 effort at the free-throw line.
Both sides struggled at the line – Okanogan’s Caydeen Diefenbach missed six of her first seven foul shots – but White Swan never could capitalize on the eight Bulldog fouls.
Leading 18-14 at the half, the Bulldogs found themselves trailing 21-20 after Wiwnu Mills hit a 3-pointer for White Swan.
The lead was short-lived, as Townsend closed out the third quarter with three straight buckets, including a nice turnaround jumper, to put the Bulldogs ahead 27-23.
Jordyn Boesel got two crucial field goals in the fourth quarter as Okanogan steadily pulled away while White Swan struggled at the line.
Finally, Townsend hit two free throws that gave the Bulldogs a safe 39-30 lead with 2:11 to play.
Both sides struggled to find the range early. White Swan took an early 5-0 lead and still had a 10-8 advantage after the first quarter against a team that beat them 55-39 in a District 5/6 playoff game three weeks ago.
Keanna Egbert’s 10-foot jumper ended a seven-minute scoring drought for the Bulldogs, who didn’t help themselves by missing three straight free throws in that stretch.
Both teams struggled early in every manner of shooting: Okanogan was 7 for 26 from the field and 3 for 8 from the line; White Swan was 5 for 26 and 3 for 10, respectively.
“That’s nothing new,” Bryan Boesel said. “Our defense, that’s why we’re winning. We were taking good shots, and you just have to keep taking them.”
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