Before opening the door to joyous locker room packed with shrieking girls, Yelm High girls basketball coach Russ Riches and assistant coach Marianna Smith reminisced about a similar run to a Narrows League title four years ago.
Both agreed it sure felt good to be back in that celebratory mood Wednesday night as they went in to embrace the Tornados’ latest title.
Yelm wrapped up the Class 4A Narrows League title with a 54-45 victory over host Bellarmine Prep, sweeping the season series between the two teams.
“Our kids just did a great job preparing for this,” Riches said. “We had a loss Jan. 4 against Gig Harbor that was a wake-up call for us, and since then they’ve just taken it one game at a time.”
The Tornados got a career night from junior McKaiela Tyler, who poured in 26 points off the bench to lead the way.
“Tyler just shot the lights out,” Riches said. “She’s capable of doing that. I basically have six kids that are starters (playing) for five spots. We know when she comes off the bench she’s going to give us a spark.”
Tyler scored 16 points in the first half, and had no idea how many points she ended up with. Anushka Maldonado added 11 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks for Yelm (17-3, 10-2 Narrows), which used a gutsy effort on the defensive glass and a stellar third quarter to get the job done on Wednesday night.
After leading 24-22 at halftime, the Tornados opened the third quarter on a 14-2 run. Maldonado hit a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer, and Tyler added a layup to close out the run and push the Yelm lead to 38-24 with 2 minutes, 58 seconds left in the third quarter.