Jefferson girls qualify for state

The Jefferson girls basketball team clinched a state playoff berth with a 67-45 win over Kentridge Friday at Rogers.

“I’m really surprised because we made TJ history, but we were all subdued in the locker room,” senior guard Jessiye Clark said. “We expected this. Now it’s time to work even harder. This is something we’ve played all our lives for.”

It’s the first state berth for a basketball team from Jefferson. The state tournament begins next week at the Tacoma Dome.

“We’re battling history, we’re battling tradition — it’s been tough over the years,” said Jefferson coach Mike Grady, recalling a game he remembered watching in the 1980s, before he was coach, when Jefferson trailed 44-0 in the third quarter. “What a historical day for Thomas Jefferson.”

The Raiders play against Enumclaw at 6 p.m. tonight at the University of Puget Sound.

Tonight’s game is exactly three months to the day that Jefferson beat Enumclaw in the first game of the season. Enumclaw has gone on to compile a 22-1 record this season, it’s only blemish being a 58-56 season-opening loss to Jefferson.

“There might be the revenge factor since we’re the only team to beat them, but we like our chances with Enumclaw,” Grady said. “Actually, they’re the shortest team we’ll play these last three games. It’s going to be a track meet. They know it and we know it. They play just like us.”

The winner plays in the West Central District championship game at 8 p.m. Saturday at UPS. The loser plays at 4 p.m. Saturday.

“They’re the real deal,” Grady said. “They have more offensive weapons than us, but we feel we’re playing well right now. We’re excited to play them.”

Against Kentridge, the Raiders used the same method they used to beat 18 other teams this season: high-pressure defense that leads to a fast-paced, transition offense.

It’s the only way the Raider’s know how to play.

“We set high expectations and try to live by them,” said senior guard Michelle Morse. “If we change them, we make them higher. We just go out there, play hard, and keep doing what we’re doing.”

Morse scored 32 points and eight steals while Clark scored 10 points and had six steals.

“Since the beginning of the season our mind was set on going to state, and it happened,” said senior wing Shannon Morse, who finished with five points and five rebounds. “We focus on winning one game at a time. We use quickness, aggressive defense, hustle plays and we run. All we do is run.”

The game was close through the first quarter as Jefferson held a 14-13 lead. But the Raiders pulled away with a 9-2 run to start a second quarter on their way to outscoring Kentridge 22-6 for a 36-19 lead at halftime.

“We realized this is our last chance,” senior wing Mitzi Moore said. “This is our senior year and our last opportunity. We have to take advantage of it. Our goal has always been to get to state. Now, we want to place and do well. We want to show other teams it’s not a fluke we got here.”

Jefferson out-rebounded Kentridge 7-3 in the third quarter to help maintain a 20-point lead that carried into the fourth quarter.

“Mitzi did an awesome job on their big girls and Shannon did a great job on the boards, too,” Clark said. “We want to win state and we won’t be satisfied with anything else. If we’re all clicking, people gotta come and run with us.”

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