Twenty-one wins and a sixth-place finish at state. Not bad for a program that four years ago had a record of two wins, 22 losses.
The Warrenton girls basketball team finished the 2018-19 season with a loss, as Brookings-Harbor scored a 45-40 win over the Warriors early Saturday morning at Marshfield High School on the final day of the 3A girls state tournament.
But that did not diminish Warrenton’s best season in almost 10 years.
“I’m proud of this team, and I was proud to be their coach,” said Warrenton’s Robert Hoepfl, whose team finished 21-9. “We still had an incredible year, and I’m happy for the seniors. I will definitely miss this group, but they reached their goal. We got to play on the last day of the season, and we’re coming home with a trophy.”
In the first half, the Warriors did what they’ve done all season — forced turnovers and popped 3-pointers.
Fernanda Alvarez and Avyree Miethe scored from close range, and a pair of 3-pointers from Kenzie Ramsey late in the second quarter gave the Warriors a 20-18 halftime lead.
Warrenton had 10 steals and forced 17 turnovers in the first half.
The Warriors appeared to be in control midway through the second half, as Bussert scored twice off turnovers, and another 3-pointer from Ramsey gave Warrenton a 33-29 lead heading to the fourth quarter.
A 3-pointer by Sidney Alexander tied the game at 34-34, and sparked a big rally for the Bruins, who took an eventual 41-38 lead.
Bussert answered with a score off a steal with 2:03 remaining, to pull the Warriors within 41-40.
But those would be the final points of Bussert’s career and Warrenton’s season. Sierra Fitzhugh hit a 3-pointer with 48 seconds left for the Bruins to secure the victory, helping Brookings-Harbor win the battle between North Coast and South Coast.
The Warriors were 3-of-19 from the 3-point line, while the Bruins hit 6-of-15 3-pointers, 9-for-20 on free throws.
“(The Bruins) hit some huge threes, and it was just one of those days where the shots weren’t falling for us,” Hoepfl said. “Credit Brookings-Harbor. They’re nice people and they’ve got a great team.”
Alvarez scored 12 points and Ramsey had 11, while Bussert finished with six points and eight steals.
In the Class 3A final, Warrenton’s Coastal Range League rival Clatskanie defeated Blanchet Catholic in the championship game, 40-39.
Warriors 45, Vale 40
The Warriors clinched their spot in the consolation final with a 45-40 win over Vale on Friday morning.
Just over 12 hours after a heart-breaking loss to Salem Academy in the quarterfinals, Warrenton was back on the court.
And the Warriors did not waste any time in putting the first round loss behind them.
Kenzie Ramsey’s 3-pointer gave Warrenton a quick 7-2 lead, but the X-factor was Fernanda Alvarez.
After spending much of Thursday’s game on the bench with foul trouble, Warrenton’s senior post was unstoppable in the first half, scoring 14 points with seven rebounds in the first 16 minutes, helping her team to a 25-18 halftime lead.
Warrenton maintained a six- to eight-point lead in the third quarter, before the Vikings staged a comeback in the fourth.
A 3-pointer by Emersyn Johnson gave Vale a 39-38 lead, but it was brief.
Claire Bussert made a pair of free throws seconds later, and the Warriors had the lead for good.
Bussert scored seven of her nine points in the second half, including a free throw with 25 seconds left that clinched the game.
Bussert had seven assists and four steals, while Ramsey led all scorers with 17 points. Alvarez finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds. The Warriors were also back to doing what they do best — collecting offensive rebounds (19) and forcing turnovers, as Vale finished with 22. Bussert and Adriana Dejesus combined for seven of Warrenton’s 14 steals.
“Fernanda had a great first half, then they doubled her in the second half, and Kenzie kind of took over in the third quarter,” said Warrenton coach Robert Hoepfl. “Then Claire closed it out for us, so it was good to see those three all have a hand in it.”
Warrenton also shot well from the field (16-for-54) and the free throw line (8-of-19).
“I’m just really proud of this team,” said Hoepfl, whose team improves to 21-8. “They’ve worked hard all season to be here. Our goal was to play on the last day of the year, and that’s what we’ll be doing.
“It was a great team effort. Everybody gave us great minutes,” he said, adding that he wasn’t too concerned about the quick turnaround from Thursday’s late-night loss. “It was almost good for us, because we didn’t have a lot of time to dwell on it. We just got up this morning, ate breakfast and headed over for the game. We didn’t have time to think about the loss.”