Touchet hoops

Cierra Jo McKeown (No. 5) splits the Liberty Christian defenders Melody Bush (No. 11) and Bella Loera (No. 20) during a 2016 game in Touchet.

Both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 Touchet girls basketball teams mirrored each other in multiple ways.

Both finished second in league.

Both ended the regular season 17-3 overall.

Both teams were within one victory of advancing to state.

Both had their seasons end with regional tournament losses to Sunnyside Christian.

The former team did not have a senior on the roster.

The latter ball club had three — Cierra Jo McKeown, Jennifer Aceves and Rachel Miller.

The 2014-15 Indians “played really well from the start,” coach Missy McKeown said.

Touchet’s pre-New Year’s Day play included two victories in a tournament hosted by Moses Lake Christian.

The Indians beat the hosts, then Tri-Cities Prep.

Cierra Jo McKeown tallied 63 points in the two games — 38 of which came versus Moses Lake Christian.

The only regular-season losses were administered by Pomeroy and Colton (twice).

“We felt we had a good shot of going to state that year,” coach McKeown said. “The powerhouse then was Colton, and Sunnyside Christian was ranked second in the state.”

Touchet beat Lacrosse-Washtucna and Pomeroy in the district tournament before losing to Colton for the crown.

“We still felt we had a good shot (at state),” coach McKeown said. “We were the only team in the league that came close to Colton. The last time we played them, we only lost to them by four points.”

Cierra Jo McKeown scored 13 points in spite of foul trouble and Abby Grudzinski added 10 in a 61-41 loss to Sunnyside Christian.

“She sat out half of the second quarter and all of the third quarter,” coach McKeown said of Cierra Jo. “We didn’t do a good job. They had two big girls and we couldn’t stop them.”

Touchet lost to Colton twice and DeSales in 2015-16’s regular season.

“We rolled through our league except for Colton,” coach McKeown said.

Non-league play was highlighted by a 2-and-0 performance at the Weston-McEwen tournament.

The Indians beat highly-regarded Grant Union and John Day.

“Grant Union was one of the top teams in Oregon,” coach McKeown said. “We held their leading scorer to like 12 points. We did a great job defensively.”

Cierra Jo McKeown scored 32 points against Grant Union.

“We started to play well together,” coach McKeown said.

The Indians started the district tourney by topping St.John-Endicott and Oakesdale.

They bowed to Colton in the championship game.

Touchet was more competitive in a regional rematch with Sunnyside Christian, but lost 74-66.

“They had one girl, a big post, that hurt us,” coach McKeown said. “She scored 39 points and was 15-for-20 from the free throw line.

“We couldn’t do the job on her defensively.”

Despite the disappointing endings, the 2014-15 and 2015-16 girls basketball seasons at Touchet High School were the kind that Indians’ fans can look back on proudly.

“The group had a lot of dedication and a lot of potential,” coach McKeown said. “They worked hard. We had a group of girls that played very well together.”

Roy Elia can be reached at royelia@wwub.com.