Friday’s 2A Girls BB: Bearcats Cap Perfect EvCo Season With Rout of Centralia
PLAYOFF-BOUND: Brumfield Scores 17, Waring Sparks W.F. West in Second Quarter of 81-39 Win
By Aaron VanTuyl
It was more interesting than the first time.
For the opening quarter and half of the second, Centralia stayed within striking distance of W.F. West — breaking the press, snagging rebounds and giving themselves a fighter’s chance against the top-ranked Bearcats on Friday night in the Hub City.
It didn’t last, but most close games don’t against this year’s W.F. West club.
“We gave them a little scare in that first quarter, but they’re a very good basketball team,” Tiger coach Doug Ashmore said. “Top to bottom, they’re very good.”
The Bearcats put together a 22-3 run over the end of the second quarter and the start of the third, turning what had been a 4-point game into a 23-point lead and didn’t need another point in their eventual 81-39 win to cap a perfect Evergreen 2A Conference regular season.
“We had one of our hardest practices of the year last night — very tiring. They were gassed, and we’ve got to start making a move here,” Bearcat coach Tom Kelly said, offering an explanation for the slow start. “I thought that they (Centralia) have gotten better, but it wears on you after a while, that pressure and stuff, and you start turning the ball over.”
And with the pressure and the turnovers taking their toll, the Bearcats scored 49 points over the two middle quarters.
“Ever since we played W.F. West the first time, we knew we had to focus more on handling pressure,” Ashmore said. “We spent half our practices every day just trying to handle pressure, handle pressure. We brought coaches in, players, boys, just trying to get better at handling pressure.”
The Tigers did, of course, handle the pressure better, but still finished with 34 turnovers.
“I think they’ve gotten better,” Kelly said. “I thought they did a better job with our pressure and stuff like that.”
Kiara Steen, Maggie Vadala and Julia Johnson each had three steals for the Bearcats, and Erika Brumfield scored a team-high 17 points with six rebounds.
Annika Waring added 16 points and did most of her work in the pivotal second quarter, with 10 points in a 13-2 run that pushed the lead to 15 points.
“She did spark us, and not just on offense, but in our run-and-jump (defense),” Kelly explained. “She anchored that thing. When you’re off the ball and denying, you’ve got to rotate, and she did it perfect.”
Steen added 15 points and Johnson scored 10 for W.F. West.
Ellie Corwin led Centralia with 18 points and seven rebounds, and Rachel Wilkerson chipped in 10 points.
Centralia (13-7, 6-4 league) finished third in the EvCo and will play at the Greater St. Helens 2A League’s No. 2 team (either Hockinson or Mark Morris) next Friday in the first round of the District 4 2A tournament. The Tigers beat GSHL champion Washougal, 28-27, back on Dec. 28.
W.F. West (18-2, 10-0 league) enters districts as a No. 1 seed and will host the No. 4 GSHL team (Woodland) on Friday.
“It feels real good,” Kelly said, of heading to the playoffs. “We have things we’ve got to work on, you can see that, but we’ll be alright.”
BEARCATS 81, TIGERS 39
W.F. West 14 25 24 18 —81
Centralia 11 11 12 5 —39
W.F. West (81) — Vadala 7, Johnson 10, Aikens 2, Mueller 4, Bennett 2, Brumfield 17, Tornow 3, Steen 15, Waring 16, McCallum 5
FG: 34 of 71 —.479 FT: 4 of 6 —.667 Reb. 24 (Brumfield 6)
Centralia (39) — Wilkerson 10, Porter 7, Kaut 4, Corwin 18
FG: 14 of 34 —.418 FT: 10 of 19 —.527 Reb. 23 (Corwin 7)