All was silent in the Tacoma Dome hallway near the locker rooms.
Behind closed doors for about 20 minutes following the game, Inglemoor High girls head coach Kristina Schumacher and her staff spoke to their basketball players after the Vikings’ season ended with a 52-41 loss to Central Valley on Friday at the 4A state tournament.
When she and her assistants emerged from the locker room first, Schumacher said the girls didn’t want to go home. They didn’t want their season to end one step short of the fourth-/sixth-place game on Saturday morning.
“We talked about the pride of getting to state and getting to the third day at state. We talked about there are 66 4A teams in the state of Washington, and at the end of last year, no one would have predicted that Inglemoor was gonna be one of them at the Tacoma Dome,” said Schumacher, adding that the Vikings sported a 10-11 record last year.
This year, Inglemoor notched a 21-8 mark and won one of three games at state. The Vikings opened the tournament with a 65-54 win over Rogers and then dropped their second game, 65-46, to Eastlake.
“We need to hold our chest high that we were one of the last eight. It took four years to build a program that is competitive (and) as cohesive as the group that we had in that locker room,” the coach said as her players filed out of the locker room.
Inglemoor graduates just three seniors in Jenna Troy, Eva Taylor and Erin Mackey, all of whom played huge roles in the team’s success this season, Schumacher said.
Instead of cheering “Inglemoor” or “Vikings” at the start and end of each practice and game, the team roars “Family,” which was a special part of the squad, the coach added.
“They truly believe it,” she said. “It wasn’t just a word they were saying because coach told us, it was a word that we said and I think they will be friends and family the entirety of their life, this group.”
Troy scored 16 points against Eastlake, 14 against Rogers and nine against Central Valley.
She’ll remember the team the most and how the girls worked hard and believed that they could rise above last year’s record to earn a trip to the Dome.
Echoing Schumacher’s sentiments, Troy said through tears: “They’re all my family and this year has been one of the most amazing years I could have ever asked for. We all wanted it for each other and they’re really my best friends. That will probably be the hardest part of how it ended — not the loss, but never being able to play with these girls and my coach again.”
A little while earlier, the Vikings battled with Central Valley and cut the Bears’ lead to 36-32 at the start of the fourth quarter. Taylor drained a three-pointer to keep the Vikings close and scored the final points of the team’s season with a putback with 12.6 seconds remaining.
Junior point guard Lucy Young mirrored Troy with 16 points of her own against Eastlake and 14 points as well against Rogers. Along with leading the ball up court, she had nine rebounds in both the Rogers and Central Valley games.
Young reflected on her basketball career following the Central Valley game.
“I can’t help but think about me starting basketball as a third-grader and then the next year, fourth grade, being able to start off my select career with Jenna, and Eva shortly joined after,” she said. “Just looking back on how far we’ve grown. Jenna and Eva were the ones who basically started my passion for basketball.”
While maintaining a strong voice despite the tough loss, Young said she’s proud of her entire team, which put in heaps of hard work at practice and during winter conditioning.
They weren’t too fond of the conditioning, “but everybody looks at each other and we all know that we have a goal of getting to the Dome,” Young said. She added: “I wanna get back here next year and I just wanna go further. Not just for myself, not just for my team, for my coaches (but also) the supporters who have stayed with me my entire career.”