Jasmyne Holmes could not be more focused after going through the fuzziest time of her basketball playing career at Bellarmine Prep.
Late last season, the point guard took a big elbow to her head in a game, causing her not only to miss the Class 4A West Central District girls tournament, but when she did come back for regionals, she was not fully healthy from suffering a concussion.
And the Lions fell one game short of advancing to the round of eight at the Tacoma Dome.
It is a different year, and Holmes is in a different place than she was 12 months ago. And it made a big difference Saturday in the WCD quarterfinals at Rogers High School.
In a rugged and brutally physical game, Holmes scored 18 points, including four free throws in the final 30.7 seconds, and No. 9 Bellarmine Prep held off Kentwood, 49-45.
The Lions (17-2) move on to face SPSL South champion Beamer in the district semifinals Thursday at Puyallup High School. The Conquerors (17-5) will have to win two consolation games to reach the regional round.
There were 10 lead changes Saturday – five coming in the fourth quarter as both teams had their spurts.
Kentwood’s last lead – 43-42 – came off Kate Kramer’s short jumper down the left baseline with 1:05 to go. But Bellarmine Prep answered 17 seconds on a second-chance shot – and Shelby Gavigan buried a 12-footer on the left baseline to give her team the lead for good, 44-43.
That is not to say it didn’t get interesting over the final 35 seconds.
Hawaii signee Sarah Toeaina, who led all scorers with 20 points, is a beastly wing who uses her power to get through crowds and to the basket. But the Bellarmine Prep defenders were no pushovers.
“I thought we took away some of the things she likes to do,” Bellarmine Prep coach Kevin Meines said. “She is very skilled going to the basket, so we tried to crowd her and make sure she was going to earn everything she got tonight.”
Toeaina charged into the lane and was immediately met with a lot of hands – and some noticeable contact. Fortunately when the Kentwood senior crashed to the floor and lost the basketball, it was called a turnover with 34.4 seconds remaining.
Holmes was fouled four seconds later, and the guard calmly made both free throws attempts for a 46-43 Lions’ lead.
Toeaina answered with two free throws of her own. And when Claire Martin split a pair from the free-throw line with 20.4 seconds to go, Kentwood had one more chance to tie.
This time Toeaina took the basketball and darted up the gut. But after she was bumped, she lost control of the basketball as it bounced right to Holmes, who went the other way.
“The only part that bothered me … was when she got shoved in the back on that play,” Kentwood coach Lisa Ashley said. “I don’t know which way (the outcome) would have gone if they called it, but in my opinion, it was flagrant.”
Holmes buried the clinching free throws with 11.2 seconds remaining, and the Lions were off to their seventh regional berth in eight seasons.
And a healthy Holmes – who sank two big 3-pointers in the third quarter to erase a deficit – couldn’t be happier.
“Last year, that was hard. I was really bummed I couldn’t start of be with my team at districts. I had never gone through something like that,” Holmes said.
“I was ready to fight to the end. I knew we were going to win this game. They are a great team and made a run … but we held our composure.”
Beamer 55, Kentridge 42: The SPSL South champions earned their second consecutive regional berth behind Nia Alexander’s 21 points, and Giavanni Flowers’ hot shooting late in the first half.
Flowers sank three 3-pointers to give the No. 3 Titans (22-1) a 31-18 halftime lead. She ended up making five of them, and finished with 17 points.
Skyview 52, Puyallup 37: After a struggle for 21/2 quarters, fourth-ranked Skyview got in high gear and cruised to a quarterfinal win over the Vikings.
After the Storm trailed for much of the first half, Skyview’s Aubrey Ward-El broke a 24-24 tie with a 3-pointer with 3:33 to go in the third quarter, giving the 2012 Class 4A champions the lead for good.
Then Ward-El tallied eight of her game-high 21 points for Skyview (22-1) in the fourth quarter. Puyallup (16-6) was led by Braylie Jeffers’ 12 points – eight coming in the first half – but committed 12 turnovers in the fourth quarter.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442