Jessi Westering felt like her old self as Rogers routed Olympia, 55-35, to keep in the race for second-place out of the 4A SPSL.
In a physical game that saw plenty of fouls, it was the Pepperdine commit Westering and freshman teammate Raigan Barrett leading the Rams on the road Friday night in Olympia.
“It’s been a long time coming. I had a couple of games where I don’t know where I was, but I’m back,” said Westering who finished with a game-high 17 points.
Westering was hot right from start as she corralled the tip-off, and hit Barrett with an under-hook outlet pass that put Rogers on the board, 2-0, within seconds of the game.
The first quarter became a slug-fest after Westering was hit with two quick fouls taking the Rams top player out of the game only two minutes into the contest, as her teammates jumped out to a 10-9 lead after the first.
“I have a hot-head like my sister (Sumner coach Jordan Moog) says,” Westering said. “I think, in the games past, I got in foul trouble and let that get to me. This game, I just said ‘Well, control what you can control.’”
Westering didn’t let up the pressure or the aggression after coming back into the game in the second, and this time the results were coming into her favor.
After Olympia’s Amelia Ack’s (8 points) shot-clock beating running shot was waved off by the refs, Westering and the Rams offense capitalized on the momentum-killing play.
Rogers (13-5, 11-3) took Olympia (10-9, 9-6) out of the game for three minutes as the Rams went on a 8-2 run capped off by a no-look bullet pass from Barrett (13 points) from the top of the key down to Westering in the post putting Rogers up 20-11.
“Tonight was a good effort. Very balanced scoring. Very balanced defensive effort,” said Rogers coach Amy Looker as her team staked out a 24-16 halftime lead. “They did a great job rebounding tonight. They did all those little things we’ve been talking about all year, so it was a good team effort tonight. It was fun to watch.”
The Rams defense looked at its best in the second half as they found ways to pick the Bears to a tune of 12 total steals as a team, with 10 of them coming in the second half.
“I think it was bad passes more than anything as I’m not that fast,” Westering joked after she finished with four rebounds and a game-high five steals. “But those are my kind of games, as I grew up as a football coach’s daughter. It’s kind of wild, and I love it.”
Olympia finished with nine total steals as a team with Ack’s (4) coming away with about half of the Bears team total.
Rogers defense allowed them to double their halftime lead by the end of the third, back by a six minute 14-2 run that closed out the third and went into the fourth, 42-25, before the Bears found an answer.
“(The physicality) is just a testament of how hard these two teams compete, and how bad they want it,” Looker said. “It’s the character of both teams.”
The Rams starters pushed their lead to twenty-three points, 52-29, before Looker took them out of the game and dug into her bench.
The win allows Rogers to keep pace with Curtis (13-5; 11-3) for second-place, as Olympia can finish no better than fourth-place with one game left against Puyallup (9-9, 7-7). The Vikings have two games remaining and can claim fourth-place by winning both games over Olympia (Jan. 31) and South Kitsap (5-13, 4-10) on Thursday (Feb. 2).