'Remember this feeling': Washington girls avenge upset loss from last year, moves to state title game
"We went into that locker room and we said, ‘Remember this feeling so you can never feel this way again,’” senior Brooklyn Harpe said.
SIOUX FALLS — The Sioux Falls Washington girls certainly didn’t forget.
After a two-loss regular season last year, the top-seeded Warriors' quest for a state championship came to an abrupt halt at the hands of eighth-seeded Sioux Falls Jefferson in a first-round upset during the Class AA state tournament.
Once again the top seed in 2023, the Warriors got their revenge, taking down the fourth-seeded Cavaliers 46-43 on Friday at the Pentagon in the Class AA semifinals to advance to the state championship game.
“We’ve been looking forward to this game all year,” senior forward Brooklyn Harpe said following the win. “Last year they knocked us out first round and it sucked. We went into that locker room and we said, ‘Remember this feeling so you can never feel this way again.’”
The team talked about the loss last year a lot, according to head coach Jamie Parish, and the approach this year was making sure the feeling his squad felt after that loss didn’t happen again.
A part of that journey was getting the top seed again. Parish said it was a goal for Washington, and it was one the Warriors accomplished by stacking up 17 wins during the regular season.
The defense has been something Washington has improved on as the year has gone on, and down the stretch, Parish said his squad’s defense has been “really good.” That statement held true Friday, holding the fourth-highest scoring offense in Class AA to 43 points and 28.8% shooting from the floor, while coming away with 13 steals.
Now with the semifinal win in the rearview mirror, the Warriors have roughly 24 hours until they tip off with a chance to cut down the nets of the Pentagon on the line, fully avenging the first-round defeat from a year ago.
“It’s definitely a balance,” Harpe said of the emotions of winning but remaining focused for the next game. “We were in that locker room singing and cheering that we won this game. But we're not done yet. We're not finished. We're not satisfied.”
The Warriors have tried to prepare themselves for a situation like this. Over a stretch this season where they played on a Friday, Saturday and Monday, Harpe said Washington tried to treat that stretch like it was a state tournament, where it'd play a team one night and then immediately shift focus and start scouting the next team.
Parish told his team following the win Friday to be happy, excited and proud, but not to be satisfied. And with a group that features six seniors, the Warriors' veteran leadership is an asset for Washington.
Prior to the game against Jefferson, Harpe said her sister, fellow senior Hannah Harpe, reminded the team it had 64 minutes left in the season and to play 100% for every single minute.
Brooklyn said all season the Warriors have focused on taking things game by game. And now all that’s left for Washington is one game, where it’ll square off with either Harrisburg or Pierre for the right to be crowned Class AA state champions.
“It feels good,” Harpe said of advancing to the state title game. “We’re not done yet, but this is a big step.”