GRANDVIEW — Tears of joy and of despair were shed Wednesday night.

Unfortunately for the No. 5 Ellensburg High School girls basketball team, it had to endure the latter with a 54-52 loss to No. 3 Grandview High School in the Central Washington Athletic Conference 2A District Championship.

Jeff Whitney and his coaches had nothing but praise for their girls because the season isn’t finished — still having a legitimate shot at state regionals.

A team that was projected to finish well under .500 to start the year, the Bulldogs have come a longways to get to this point.

“Once you reach this level, on any given night a team can win. And we’re still playing, and we get a chance to host,” Whitney said. “That’s what we were talking to them about, they don’t understand because they haven’t been around long enough to figure it out.

“So, it’s our jobs as coaches to say ‘Look, you were projected to finish with six wins for the season, but that’s still not an excuse, you got to bring it now Saturday … we’re not done.’”

For the first half of the season, Ellensburg sat with Selah at the top of the CWAC, but the second half, the girls had a tough stretch of games. They dropped three in a row and ended up being tabbed the No. 5 seed.

Come playoff time, the Bulldogs have won three-straight to get to the championship, including a huge triumph over No. 1 Selah.

“We definitely proved a lot of people wrong,” Kami Hartrick said. “Going into the season, we we’re looked as the underdogs honestly. We definitely proved a lot of people wrong. We came from fifth in league and took down the No. 1 seed, I mean, we got people to prove and we just took it all down.”

It came down to the wire as the Bulldogs were behind 45-39 with 4:06 remaining in the fourth quarter. Dylan Philip ensued to bury one from deep and the next possession added a lay in, trimming the deficit to one.

Michelle Ruiz of Grandview, however, tacked on a basket and-1 and Aulani Benitez later had points down low, pushing its advantage to 50-44 with under two minutes to play.

Then came Kami Hartrick, scoring six straight points, having her team trail by two with 37.5 seconds.

“Sometimes, when you’re hot — you’re just hot,” Hartrick said, who had 17 points.

Grandview bricked its next shot attempt, and the Bulldogs had 26 seconds to tie the ballgame — or take a lead. But, Brinley Hagemeier was called for a questionable offensive foul midcourt, looking as she may have pushed off her defender a bit.

“To me, you don’t really call that,” Whitney said. “With that little of time and a two-point lead. It’s kind of like that hero thing, that guy hadn’t called much all night. …To me, that was the game because now we had to foul.”

Ellensburg sent Ruiz to the free throw line — and she hit both. Philip quickly took it coast to coast for a bucket, but another foul had Grandview at the line. It missed both and the Bulldogs had no timeouts to get an actual shot off.

“Again, it was a good game, both teams played well, we just had two points less. That’s the way I look at it,” Whitney said.

Ellensburg gained some tempo midway through the first quarter, getting baskets from Hartrick and Hagemeier, compelling a Grandview timeout. Hagemeier continued the momentum, draining a 3-ball and then a jump shot near the wing to take a 11-5 advantage.

The Greyhounds evened the contest after a pair of free throws, but buckets from Payton Lyyski and Philip pushed Ellensburg’s lead to four. Grandview responded with a 7-0 run to grab a 18-15 lead that was capped off by a deep three-pointer to end the period.

Second quarter had both offenses subside, as Ellensburg’s defense forced a turnover in seven of Grandview’s eight possessions to start, but couldn’t find points themselves.

The Greyhounds tacked on a basket to lead by six — until Philp cut it in half with a trey. Grandview had added points in the paint but the next Bulldog possession, Hagemeier knocked down a 3-pointer.

Ellensburg trailed 25-23 at the break.

Philip notched 17 points and Hagemeier tallied 12.

Ruiz had a game-leading 22 points.

The Bulldogs will host a cross-over game against either East Valley of Spokane or Clarkston High School this Saturday at 6 p.m.

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