MOUNT VERNON — Cheers could be heard Monday night in the hallway outside the lockerroom of the Anacortes girls’ basketball team.
And for good reason.
The Seahawks had minutes earlier beaten Cedarcrest 40-29 in the Northwest 2A District Tournament semifinals to punch their ticket to the regional round of the state playoffs.
“We made it a goal at the beginning of the season to get to regionals. We’re really happy,” said Anacortes junior Clare Martin.
The Seahawks, 15-7 and winners of five straight, are in the state playoffs for the first time since finishing fifth in 2008.
They earned the berth by beating a Burlington-Edison team ranked No. 2 in the Class 2A state poll on Friday, then refocusing for Cedarcrest.
“I knew we were prepared to come and do the job,” said Anacortes senior Brooke Geffe.
Ninth-ranked Anacortes will play at 8 p.m. Friday at Mount Vernon in the district title game, then play a regional game Feb. 26 or 27.
After holding a double-digit lead against Cedarcrest through much of the second and third quarters, the Seahawks found their lead trimmed to five early in the fourth.
They, however, quickly built it back up to 10.
Anacortes coach Ken Welk said his confidence in his team was never shaken.
“I’m not a worrier and I don’t think our girls are worriers either,” he said. “I think they responded from that (Cedarcrest getting close). There wasn’t any worrying out there. It was just, ‘Do the job.’”
Geffe scored 13 points and freshman Gabby Ronngren finished with 10.
The Seahawks held Cedarcrest to nine first-half points on the way to building a 23-9 lead.
But the Red Wolves had a better second half, scoring 20 points including nine off 3-pointers.
As Cedarcrest was making its second-half charge, Geffe picked up two fouls within two minutes of the third quarter — her second and third of the game — and spent about 3 1/2 minutes on the bench.
“This girl is very valuable to us, but I didn’t worry about it,” said Welk. “We had a lead and Brooke will tell you too that she has team members who can do the job.”
Geffe left with her team ahead by 13 and returned with the Seahawks up by seven.
She scored two more points to help her team pull away, while Ronngren had four and Martin five.
After rebuilding their lead, all that was left was the celebrating.
“I think our girls definitely feel good about this accomplishment,” said Welk. “They feel they earned it, and they’re excited about it.”
A lot has gone into the Seahawks’ reaching their goal of getting to the regional round of the state playoffs.
They’ve been a work in progress for much of the season.
“We’ve definitely come a long way since,” said Martin. “We knew we had the potential. We just had to find the right formula.”