With the game hanging in the balance, Woodinville seized the moment. Despite being in a position that was foreign to every single girl on their roster, the Falcons once again overcame.
So far, so good indeed.
After defeating Bellarmine Prep 49-39 in overtime Thursday night at the Tacoma Dome, the team achieved something that was previously never done by a Woodinville High School team -- they reached the state semifinals.
Melissa Gilkey carried the Falcons with 21 points and 14 rebounds while never coming off the court through the entire 36 minutes of the contest. Ali Forde added 11 points and Deidre Miller had seven.
"We're feeling good," a joyous Gilkey said afterwards. "We've never been in this position before, no Woodinville team ever has."
It was never easy.
Bellarmine Prep (18-4), utilizing their superior speed and athleticism, had Woodinville flummoxed the entire first half as they jumped out to a 20-13 lead. It certainly didn't help that the Falcons were forced to play the majority of the first half without Forde, who picked up two fouls before three minutes were played.
With Forde on the bench, their leading scorer put the team on her shoulders.
Gilkey did all she could to keep the Falcons alive, scoring nine of the team's 13 first half points and pulling down eight rebounds as her team struggled against the Lions' stifling defensive pressure (the Falcons committed 12 turnovers in the half).
Were the Falcons nervous entering their first game at the Tacoma Dome?
"Nervous might be the right word, I don't know," said Gilkey. "The whole atmosphere of the Tacoma Dome, it's kinda scary being in such a big place. I think we were a little anxious. We were really excited for everything, it took us awhile to adjust but we did it."
The Falcons settled down in the second half. Behind Forde and Gilkey, the team cut the Lions 7-point halftime lead to just one at the end of the third quarter at 28-27. As the fourth period got underway, Miller made a clutch jumper to give the Falcons their first lead of the game at 29-28.
It was the boost Woodinville needed.
Miller followed with her only 3-pointer of the game and Forde added a bucket to put the Falcons up 38-33 with just over two minutes to play in regulation.
However, the Lions behind leading scorer Sarah Hartwell, wouldn't go quietly.
The team closed on a 5-0 run to force overtime as Forde missed the front-end of a 1-and-1 free-throw opportunity with 13 seconds left.
The overtime period, though, belonged to Woodinville and Gilkey. The senior had two back-to-back buckets to put the Falcons up 44-39 and the team wouldn't look back from that point on. After a couple of Alexis McLeod free-throws, the clock expired and Woodinville could celebrate its greatest achievement to date.
"If we stop right here we know our town will be proud of us but we know we can do so much more," said Gilkey. "We're just trying to go as far as we can."