The Deer Park Lady Stags’ Quest For State Glory

Photo by Brandi Scott

Amidst transitions and high expectations, the Deer Park Lady Stags shine in a thrilling pursuit of a second state championship, bidding farewell to their 1A era with a string of victories and standout performances.

Following the conclusion of the 2023 season the Deer Park Lady Stags looked to have some large shoes to fill with the departure of four time all league selection, two time Northeast “A” League MVP Darien Herring, now at Lewis-Clark State and two time selection Allie Garry.  In the months between seasons, there were rumblings of several talented newcomers which would provide a deep and skilled roster.  The assessment turned out to be accurate as it was quickly evident this group was going to be pretty special, and without the presence of any seniors.

In the ensuing months, they took their fans on a memorable ride.  The final stop was the state championship game, Saturday evening in the Yakima Valley Sundome against defending champions Nooksack Valley.

The Lady Stags were actually seeking a second state championship of the week, having learned shortly prior to their Tuesday departure of their 1A academic state championship with a cumulative GPA of 3.94.

A barrage of three pointers, half of the six by Brooklyn Coe, saw Deer Park lead after one quarter 23-14.  Emma Bryant would cap the long distance shooting clinic with her second on the Lady Stags final possession of the quarter.

Three more deliveries from downtown, the last by Kaitlyn Scott, which was followed by an Ashlan Bryant score, had Deer Park on top 36-25.  The Pioneers would respond, closing the first half with a 9-3 run, closing the margin to 39-34 at halftime.

Nooksack Valley quickly evened the score at 39 before four free throws gave Deer Park the lead 43-39.  The Lady Stags would go on a 13-4 run to lead 52-43 with 1:19 to play in the third.  The defending champions countered with a quarter closing 7-0 run and Deer led 52-50 with one quarter remaining.

Following a score evening bucket for Nooksack Valley, Berlyn Zimmerer and Emma Bryant dropped triples on consecutive possessions for a 58-52 Lady Stags lead.  The score became deadlocked again at 60 before Zimmerer stole a rebound and scored with 3:05 left. Trailing by one with 28 seconds left Ashlan Bryant connected from beyond the arc for a 67-66 advantage.  Nooksack Valley would hit two free throws with 16 seconds left and another pair with three ticks left before a half court attempt fell short of the mark by the Lady Stags for the Pioneers final victory margin of 70-67.

Ashlan Bryant would total 20 points, six rebounds and four assists.  Coe contributed 17, with five on three pointers and Emma Bryant had 13.  Ashlan Bryant was named first team all tournament with Coe second team, repeating as an all tourney pick.

This was the Lady Stags farewell to the 1A ranks as growing enrollment bumped Deer Park up to the 2A classification and the Greater Spokane League, which includes 2A third place finisher Clarkston. They leave having a string of 28 consecutive victories over league opponents.

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