This Kentridge High School girls basketball team just keeps making history.
It started last year, when it shocked the state to win the 4A state championship in the Tacoma Dome – it’s first state title.
Now the Chargers have their first district title.
And in typical fashion, No. 3 Kentridge won with dominant post play from JaQuaya Miller and Jordyn Jenkins as Miller scored 18 points and Jenkins had 22 in a 55-41 win over Bellarmine Prep for the 4A West Central/Southwest bidistrict championship on Saturday at Puyallup High School.
It’s a wonder why Miller and Jenkins even needed the ladder when they were cutting down the net from the basket afterward.
“We tried to win the district title last year, but we didn’t have her big self,” said the 6-foot-4 Miller, pointing to Jenkins, a 6-foot-2 sophomore.
“Hopefully this is definitely boosting our confidence going into the state tournament,” Jenkins said.
Bellarmine was the reigning district champion.
But the biggest development in this one came less than a minute into the game. Three-time league MVP Shalyse Smith landed on a player’s foot and sprained her ankle. The gym went silent as coach Kim West and Bellarmine’s trainer consoled her and helped her off the floor to the end of the Bellarmine bench.
Smith, a 6-foot-1 forward who has signed her letter of intent to play at the University of Arizona next year, didn’t return.
“It’s hurting her,” West said. “We’ll get better for this experience. We have the ability as a team to get better from this.”
The severity of the sprain wasn’t immediately known and Bellarmine doesn’t play again until next week in the regional round of the state tournament. And Bellarmine was No. 6 in the WIAA’s RPI rankings, so it is guaranteed a spot in the Tacoma Dome, no matter the result of next week’s game (though a win would give the Lions a bye to the state quarterfinals).
So, really, Bellarmine can take some time to let Smith heal.
And it looked like it could have been worse. Not like what West dealt with her senior year at Bellarmine when she tore her ACL just before the state tournament, she said. West went on to compete in the Olympics with the Great Britain national team, but missed the rest of her senior season.
“I was telling the girls that this is a character check,” West said. “It’s a bummer, but we’re not in control.”
Still, Bellarmine fought even without its leading scorer, rebounder and passer.
This has turned into a bit of a rivalry the past two seasons. They had split their two meetings before Kentridge beat Bellarmine in the 4A state semifinals last season on its way to that first state title.
Then they opened this season against each other, with Bellarmine pulling away late for a win, only for Kentridge to pay the Lions back on Saturday.
Kentridge led 28-19 at halftime, but really pulled away in the third quarter, when Bellarmine scored just three points, while Jenkins and Miller dominated with their high-low post game.
“We did what we could, but when they’re 6-4 and you don’t box out every single time, they’re going to get the rebound,” West said. “It’s a very easy bucket right under the basket.
“We’ll get better at boxing out. I guarantee that.”
Kentridge has the No. 3 RPI ranking, so it’s looking like it will play Bellarmine again in next week’s regional round.
But Kentridge coach Bob Sandall is looking forward to getting back in that Tacoma Dome. They know No. 1 Central Valley is the favorite and this 4A field is loaded, but their size makes them a tough matchup.
But these guards, like senior Tresai McCarver, make Kentridge go.
“We want to win and do what it takes to win,” Sandall said. “All of them give up something to make us better. All of those kids could be scorers elsewhere. It would be easy for our guards to want to shoot the ball whenever they get a touch because they don’t know how many touches they are going to have. But that’s not the case at all.
“I’m just really fortunate to have this group of kids and that they are so unselfish.”
And, hey, while Kentridge has those firsts out of the way, there’s no shame in going for seconds.
“That’s one of the things that was kind of a surprise over the years is how much this means to the other people outside our team,” Sandall said. “These kids certainly get a lot out of it and their parents, but it means a lot to the staff and student body, too. It’s been really fun.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
NO. 3 KENTRIDGE
NO. 5 BELLARMINE PREP
Kentridge: Morgan Gary 7, Hana McVicker 4, Tresai McCarver 2, Dayla Ballena 2, Jordyn Jenkins 22, JaQuaya Miller 18.
Bellarmine: Madeline Garcia 11, Catie Burns 3, Jenny Hagle 6, Reyelle Frazier 9, Makiah Reed 8, Julia Bordeaux 2, Ciara Gatpatan 2.