STORY & PHOTOS BY GLENN NELSON
Riverside's Julie Futch fouls Janna Erickson of University
Dara Zack of University
TACOMA, March 11 - Standing at the line with 5.5 seconds to play and a tied score, it was a moment for which University coach Mark Stinson knew his player had diligently prepared.
"I was sure she would make (at least) one," Stinson said of his junior post, Dara Zack.
And that's exactly what Zack did, claiming the third-place trophy for the Titans, who survived a somewhat controversial finish to prevail 53-52 over Auburn Riverside.
Earlier in the season, Zack had been struggling with her free throws. She received some advice from Stinson, and the two frequently worked on adjustments with extra work after practice.
"It was just like practice," she said of the pressure-filled last foul shots.
Over on the Riverside end of the court, the tears flowed like winter rain. When Oregon State-bound star Julie Futch shook off a mediocre tournament performance and hit a go-ahed, pullup jumper off a 1-4 low set with 1:01 left, it appeared karma was on the Ravens' side. However, Tonya Schnibbe came up with a big steal with 21 seconds to play, and Angie Bjorklund sank two free throws to tie the score at 52 with 16 seconds remaining.
Auburn Riverside ran a pick-and-roll between Futch and Stephanie Wilber that worked nearly perfectly. However, Wilber got pushed too deep below the rim and missed the shot. During the scramble for the rebound, the 5-feet-9 Zack's 10th of the game, Katie Grad was whistled for a foul with 5.5 seconds to play.
After Zack hit her foul shot, Futch went coast to coast, was shepherded to the corner where her shot at the buzzer was blocked by Bjorklund and Schnibbe.
"We haven't had a shot called on a game-winning shot all year," Riverside coach Adam Barrett said. "Those are tough to accept."
The tears he and his player shed, Barrett said, were for Futch, who set a standard for a program clearly on the rise. While opposing defenses focused their efforts on the 5-8 point guard, Riverside enjoyed huge contributions from freshman Nichole Jackson, sophomores Grad and Nneka Payne, and have all-league junior post Stephanie Wilber. The Ravens also have a top-notch incoming freshman class and perhaps the best seventh grader in the state in their district.
Meanwhile, the Titans have one more season from Bjorklund, the Tennessee commit and top player in the state, as well as Zack, who stepped up in the third-place game after a slow start in the tournament.
"I needed to bring more energy," Zack said. "That's been my role on the team, and I wanted to fulfill my role."
Our Complete 2006 State 4A Tournament Coverage Menu:
4A Tournament Gallery
Dozens of images from one of the most competitive State 4A tournaments in years, starting from the championship game and moving back to the beginning.
Elite 11: Tigers Roar
Lewis and Clark had the best combination of size, guard play, defense and coaching in the state this season.
A 4A Family Affair
Katelan Redmon's timely but unexpected 22 points help land a state championship for her and her uncle, Lewis and Clark coach Jim Redmon.
4A Tournament Recap
MVP, all-tournament team with profiles and comments, all scores and statistical leaders.
Practice Makes ... Third
Dara Zack practiced for the moment and came through for University, earning the Titans their highest finish at State.
'Desperation Mode' for Ike
After a quarterfinal loss, Eisenhower tossed all inhibitions aside, and plotted a course to fourth place.
Block Party for T-Birds
Mount Tahoma's unorthodox, frantic style, led by Shauniece Samms' shot-blocking, powered the T-Birds through the consolation bracket for a fifth-place finish.
Big and Defensive
Lewis & Clark and Prairie reach the State 4A championship game with great size and defense.
Stock on the Rise
The Kentwood junior has been the talk of the State 4A tournament and a hit with college coaches and scouts.
Pick Your Poison
There is so much to fear from the four 4A semifinalists, it's difficult to choose which to fear most.
Remember the Titans
When considering the candidates for 2006's darlings of destiny, Angie Bjorklund and University stand out from the pack.
Wednesday 4A Photos
Images from furious first-round action at the Tacoma Dome.
The Wolfpack is Back
One amazing youth basketball team helped produce three of the region's top young point guards, plus the core of the Jackson High School team that qualified for the State 4A
tournament for the first time in its history.
4A Bracket Breakdown
How we see the tournament unfolding, round by round and game by game, to a University vs. Auburn Riverside final featuring stars Angie Bjorklund and Julie Futch.
Elite Eleven: You Go, Girls
Three women - Joyce Walker, Penny Gienger and Kathy Gibson - enjoyed outstanding, role-setting seasons in girl's high-school basketball..
State 4A Team Capsules
Essential information on tournament participants, with power rankings by HoopGurlz.com (not predicted finish). Individual team capsules also can be accessed by clicking team
name from front-page list of qualifiers.
Know where all the seniors are headed after the tournament. We have the most complete list anywhere of Division I commitments by players from Washington and Oregon.
Glenn Nelson is the publisher of HoopGurlz.com and the editor-in-chief of Scout Media (www.Scout.com), an online sports network and magazine-publishing company and subsidiary of Fox Interactive Media. Glenn also founded and coached
the Dragons and Northwest HoopGurlz select girls basketball teams. He previously was a longtime, national-award-winning basketball columnist and writer for The Seattle
Times. His work also has appeared in several national magazines and books. He is co-author of "Rising Stars: The Ten Best Players in the NBA" (Rosen Publishing, 2002).