Deer Park girls advance to state for second time in school history

Michael Brock

The Deer Park girls basketball team is headed to state for the first time in 30 years. With a 45–44 win over Medical Lake on Feb. 21, the Stags qualified for the regional and state tournament for the second time in school history, and first since 1989-90.

“It’s amazing,” said senior Hava Fairbanks, who had 15 points in the win over the Cardinals. “It’s been my dream since I first started playing basketball to be able to do this and make this big of an impact. To be a part of a team like this.”

Head coach KC Ahrens, who is in his second season at the helm for the Stags, was emotional after the game. “To do it here is a big deal,” Ahrens said. “It’s not Freeman, it’s not a place that’s done it [lots] before. These girls got it hopefully going in the right direction. It’s very special; they deserve it.”

For the state tournament, Deer Park received a 13-seed and will play 12-seed Elma in a loser-out regional playoff game at noon this Saturday, Feb. 29 at Tumwater High School. The winner will advance to next week’s hardwood classic in Yakima. The Stags are currently ranked 14th in RPI, Elma is 13th.

Before taking out Medical Lake, Deer Park lost to Freeman 58–46 on Feb. 19 in the NEA district championship game. Fairbanks knew she had to move on from the championship loss to give her team a shot in the second place game.

“I took it pretty tough,” Fairbanks said. “But you can’t marinate on those things and let it grow on you ... I came in mentally prepared for this one. I just knew if I let that one linger then we’d have no chance at all.”

As for state, Fairbanks is remaining equally focused, saying the team can’t let the win get to its head.
“We have to work even harder,” Fairbanks said. “If we thought we were working hard before, we got to reach another level because that’s how we need to be. All the teams we’re going to see at state are going to be like that.”