Sarah Toeaina has experienced basketball bliss.
At the time, she was only 13. She was a ball girl on the Kentwood High School girls squad that defeated Snohomish for the Class 4A state title back in 2008-09.
“I remember them cutting down the nets — and it was the only thing I remember,” Toeaina said. “Going through that makes me realize it is possible.”
Nobody is talking about the Conquerors — and that is OK with the coaches and players. They dominated Curtis, 64-33, in the opening round of the West Central District championships Thursday night in Kent.
Toeaina led the charge with 18 points. Kate Kramer added 16, and Jenny Johnson chipped in with 10. The senior trio scored the team’s first 28 points over the first 12½ minutes of the game.
The Conquerors (17-4) move on to face Bellarmine Prep in a winner-to-state quarterfinal game Saturday at Rogers High School.
“I like coming in under the radar,” Kentwood coach Lisa Ashley said. “It is fine if they don’t want to put us in the top 10 (rankings) — and I think it’s better.”
This is really the year the Conquerors are set up to make noise. They started five seniors and have three bona fide playmakers in Kramer, Johnson and Toeaina, who has signed to play basketball for the University of Hawaii.
Toeaina scored eight points in the first quarter. And two 3-pointers by Johnson in the first 2:50 of the second quarter really opened up the floodgates.
But the real lift comes from having Kramer back. Coming off a serious knee injury, she did not rejoin the lineup until early January. Her ability to move the ball from the wing — and shoot — really make Kentwood difficult to defend.
As for the Vikings (16-7), they looked like a team loaded with talented but inexperienced sophomores and ninth-graders. They did not score until 31 seconds remaining in the first quarter on Cedrice Howard’s putback basket.
And they lost track of the Kentwood shooters. The Conquerors sank five 3-pointers in the second quarter, capped by Ashley Rolsma’s shot from the left corner with four seconds to go, giving the hostesses a 34-13 halftime advantage.
“We definitely showed up tonight,” Toeaina said. “It was a good start to the postseason. We know the teams are going to get tougher as the games go on.”
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442