Women’s College Basketball: Lorton Leads LCC Over Centralia

Images from a NWAC women’s college basketball game between Centralia College and Lower Columbia College at Michael Smith Gymnasium in Centralia on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019.

Let it Rain: Former Adna Standout Buries 7 Long Balls in Return to Lewis County
By Jordan Nailon
jnailon@chronline.com

The Centralia College women’s basketball team couldn’t hang with Lower Columbia College here Monday night as the Red Devils ran away with a 73-50 victory in NWAC Western Conference action.

Following the final horn, Blazers coach Caleb Sells was not conflicted on what exactly had done his team in.

“Their three point shooting. They shot over 50 percent from three and Kenya (Lorton) was 7 for 8. They came out hot to start with,” noted Sells.

It was Lorton, a former Adna standout and current sophomore guard for Lower Columbia, who led the Red Devils with 21 points. Up until her final shot of the game she hadn’t missed all night.

Earlier this year the Blazers were able to top Lower Columbia down in Longview by a score of 60-54. Coming into Monday’s game the Red Devils trailed Centralia by just one game for a share of first place in the Western Conference. Those stakes left the visitors chomping at the bit to avenge their loss from earlier in the year.

“This whole week we’ve just been hyped at practice because it’s such a big game for us,” said Lorton, who took the court sporting red alongside former W.F. West Bearcat, Shasta Lofgren. “After we lost to Centralia last time we knew this was going to be a big game. It’s always a big game especially for Shasta and me. It’s basically like a home game coming here so we always look at Centralia as our biggest rival.”

Lorton said she knew she had a hot hand after her first shot of the night. Meanwhile, Lofgren said her confidence in her sharpshooting teammate never wavers.

“Kenya is a great shooter so I never doubt Kenya when she shoots,” Lofgren said.

The former Bearcat, who tallied three points, nine rebounds and two assists for the Red Devils, added that there is always a little extra incentive to show out when local players come back to the Hub City.

“I’ve worked out here a lot and I went to a lot of open gyms just growing up here so it was exciting because I had a lot of people out here for me. And I know Kenya lives close too so we had a lot of people here today and we were excited,” Lofgren explained.

With their players adequately inspired LCC took a 25-16 lead after one quarter and turned that into a commanding 43-26 lead at the half. Things didn’t get much better for Centralia in the second half as they were outscored 30-26 over the final two quarters.

“I give them a lot of credit because our strength all year has been our three point shooting and they did as good of job as anybody of spreading out their defense and basically daring us to beat them inside. And when we got the ball inside we couldn’t finish,” explained Sells.

One major impediment to those scoring opportunities in the paint was Lower Columbia’s 6’2” bruiser, Nizhoni Wheeler.

“I honestly don’t think there is one person in the NWAC who can really shut Nizhoni down just because she’s the biggest and she’s out there ready to kick somebody’s butt all the time,” said Lofgren of her imposing teammate.

Sells admitted that Wheeler is a force to be reckoned with down low but commended his team for their efforts cleaning the glass. For the game Lower Columbia was only able to grab three more rebounds than the Blazers.

“I was really happy with how we rebounded because they’ve got some size. A lot more than we do. We only gave up five offensive rebounds and I was really happy with that,” said Sells.

Linsey Nurmi led Centralia with 19 points, while Piper Cai added 11 points. Devanie Kleemeyer added eight points and four players grabbed five rebounds each.

Last Wednesday the Blazers dropped their first league game of the season when Grays Harbor got the best of them 65-48.

“We’re in a little bit of a funk right now. The last couple of days, too, we’ve had some kind of make-shift practices with the snow and whatnot. We haven’t had the whole squad together since our last game,” Sells said. “We’re just trying to get them back in the swing of things. I’ve got some players who are playing well and some that aren’t so I’m trying to figure out how to piece it all together for this stretch run.”

With the loss the Blazers fall into what amounts to a three-way tie for first place with Lower Columbia and Grays Harbor as each team has two conference losses. Centralia (13-10, 7-2) will play at South Sound Community College on Wednesday.

Women’s College Basketball

At Centralia

RED DEVILS 73, BLAZERS 50

Lower Columbia 25 18 13 17 —73

Centralia 16 8 19 16 —50

Lower Columbia (73) — Lorton 21, Lofgren 3, Maluyo 13, Packham 11, Wheeler 11, Mosier 3, Jacobson 11

FG: 26 of 55 —.473 FT: 8 of 13 —.615 Reb: 30 (Lofgren 9)

Centralia (50) — Cai 11, Yenne 3, Connally 2, Elwood 2, Nurmi 19, Talapu 2, Cash 3, Kleemeyer 8

FG: 17 of 54 —.315 FT: 9 of 13 —.692 Reb: 27

Women’s College Basketball

At Centralia

RED DEVILS 73, BLAZERS 50

Lower Columbia 25 18 13 17 —73

Centralia 16 8 19 16 —50

Lower Columbia (73) — Lorton 21, Lofgren 3, Maluyo 13, Packham 11, Wheeler 11, Mosier 3, Jacobson 11

FG: 26 of 55 —.473 FT: 8 of 13 —.615 Reb: 30 (Lofgren 9)

Centralia (50) — Cai 11, Yenne 3, Connally 2, Elwood 2, Nurmi 19, Talapu 2, Cash 3, Kleemeyer 8

FG: 17 of 54 —.315 FT: 9 of 13 —.692 Reb: 27

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