Lane reaches fifth Final Four in six years

The anticipated matchup between the Lane Titans and Umpqua Riverhawks was postponed due to snowy conditions in Lane County. As the days went by, the anticipation amplified. The game was rescheduled for March 4.

A lot was riding on this game as the two were playing for seeding spots in the NWAC playoffs. The loser would get a number two seed in the playoffs while the winner would be crowned a number one seed, giving them the easier path through the tournament.

Kelly O’Malley is recognized during sophomore night before the final regular season game against Lane’s rival Umpqua. (Selina Scott // The Torch)

The two teams had locked horns earlier in the season, resulting in a Lane loss. The Titans looked for redemption.

Both teams came out strong. Lane took a slight lead of 28-26 going into the second quarter. Throughout the second quarter, the game remained neck and neck. With 44 seconds remaining, Lane guard Kylie Guelsdorf knocked in two free throws to give the Titans a one-point halftime lead with a score of 47-46.

Throughout the second half, neither team took a double-digit advantage until six minutes remained in the fourth quarter when Lane Guard Kalina Rojas hit a clutch jumper to add to the lead.

Khadija Smith accepted a bouquet for sophomore honors March 4 before the match against Umpqua. (Selina Scott // The Torch)

A minute later, Rojas chipped in another two-point bucket, spreading the lead to 12. The Riverhawks responded by scoring 11 unanswered points and bringing the Lane lead down to one with 41 seconds left in the game. The Riverhawks converted another two-point attempt, giving themselves a 79-78 lead on the Titans with just seconds remaining on the clock.

With eight seconds left, the Titans gave the ball to Guelsdorf. She got a look at a layup as time expired, but the attempt fell short, and the Titans lost to Umpqua once again.

Mya India Thomas was devastated after the loss to Umpqua. The women Titans locked in the second seed in the NWAC playoffs. (Selina Scott // The Torch) 

“All we have to do now is concentrate on our next game. It’s motivated us our last two [losses], so hopefully it motivates us again,” assistant coach Susan Smith said.

At a second seed in the tournament, Lane then faced the number three seeded Walla Walla Warriors, winning that matchup 81-73.

The Titans advanced to the Elite Eight where they faced off against the number one seeded Lower Columbia Red Devils, whom they completely blew out of the gym on Sunday, March 10, ending with a score of 93-44.

The Titans looked to continue winning as they advanced to the final four. Next, they faced the Wenatchee Valley Knights.

The Knights had a 26-5 record going into the semi-final. At tipoff, the teams proved to be evenly matched. Lane went into halftime with a 46-39 lead hoping to continue that trend.  

The Titans kept their lead throughout the third quarter and through much of the fourth until a Knight free throw knotted the game up at 72. Following a Lane miss the Knights then took the lead and ran with it. The game ended with a score of 84-81 with the Knights on top.

With the Titans’ monstrous season coming to a dramatic finish, they are hopeful as they look into the 2020 season. Though six sophomores are moving on, this year’s freshmen will be eager to build on their success and return to the NWAC postseason.