This win over Bellarmine Prep proved one great thing for this young but talented Kentridge High School girls basketball team.
“If we can beat them, we can beat anybody,” Kentridge’s JaQuaya Miller said. “There is no stopping us now.”
It took the sixth-ranked Chargers overcoming a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
And it took one big go-ahead shot from Bronte Fougere with about 18 seconds left.
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But Kentridge was able to overcome two years’ worth of demons with its 60-59 victory over eighth-ranked Bellarmine Prep in a nonleague matchup on Wednesday on the Chargers’ home court — though Bellarmine coach Kevin Meines said it felt like a game meant for a different stage.
“I told our girls that this game felt like it should have been played in the Tacoma Dome,” Meines said.
And this was a much different, more talented Kentridge (5-0) than the ones his Lions beat in the district playoffs each of the past two years.
But first — that last sequence.
It wasn’t the play Kentridge coach Bob Sandall set up. He said Fougere was supposed to be coming off a double screen for a shot.
But guard Daylani Ballena, a freshman, got trapped in the right corner. Still, she managed to get her 5-foot-6 frame high enough over the defenders to find Fougere with some room just above the left elbow.
“I was just so happy for (Fougere),” Sandall said. “She works so hard, and she almost never gets any recognition for it.”
Bellarmine’s Madeline Garcia, who scored 13 points, had a look from the top of the key just before the buzzer, but her shot rimmed out, and the Kentridge student section promptly stormed the court.
“I thought that was going in,” Meines said.
Miller, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, scored 15 points with five rebounds and four steals. And 6-foot-1 freshman Jordyn Jenkins also had 15 points, including six consecutive to give Kentridge a 58-57 lead with about two minutes to play.
Bellarmine Prep’s Shalyse Smith led all scorers with 17 points, but she picked up her fifth foul after Miller rebounded Smith’s missed shot with 3:13 remaining.
The Lions (2-1) led 54-45 when Smith made two free throws with 6:01 remaining.
But then Kentridge began looking more for Miller in the post. She keyed a 7-0 run over the next minute and a half, including a putback off one aggressive drive, to cut the lead to 54-52.
And with Smith out, Kentridge had the size advantage with its sophomore-freshman post combination.
This win for Kentridge came a day after Bellarmine had beat Graham-Kapowsin, 76-12, including taking a 29-0 lead after the end of the first quarter.
This one was close throughout — tied at the end of the first quarter and tied at halftime before the fantastic finish.
“They are resilient,” said Sandall, who is in his seventh year at Kentridge. “This is the most together group I’ve had, and the hardest-working, dedicated group. They bring it every single day, and I can’t say enough about them. They are an exceptional group.”
NO. 8 BELLARMINE PREP
NO. 6 KENTRIDGE
Bellarmine: Shalyse Smith 17, Madeline Garcia 13, Jenny Hagle 6, Reyelle Frazier 6, Maggie Smith 5, Ciara Gatpatan 4, Mary Joyce 4, Julia Bordeaux 3.
Kentridge: Jordyn Jenkins 15, JaQuaya Miller 15, Morgan Gary 10, Bronte Fougere 8; Hana McVicker 5, Tresai McCarver 3, Brooke Ziegenhagen 2, Daylani Ballena 2