JaQuaya Miller doesn’t hesitate at the question. Have the Kentridge High School girls faced a team this season that can match up with her and Jordyn Jenkins in the post?
“No,” Miller said. “Me and Jordyn are a different type of player, especially when we’re together, we’re completely unstoppable.”
Perhaps more unstoppable than any duo in Washington — which is why the Chargers (16-2) have spent most of this season as the favorite to win a Class 4A state title this March in the Tacoma Dome.
But, the two were split up late in the third quarter Monday night at the ShoWare Center in the annual 2019 King Showcase basketball invitational.
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Jenkins, who scored 17 points and pulled down six rebounds for the Chargers, fouled out with two minutes, 32 seconds left in the third, giving Woodinville enough of an opening to pull off a 72-71 overtime upset. It was Kentridge’s first in-state loss of the season.
“It humbles us,” said Miller, a UW signee who scored a team-high 30 points and pulled down 24 rebounds. “We know there is somebody out there working just as hard as us. We know that people are trying to come for us. It’s not a shock to us. We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we didn’t think we were going to lose.”
The loss was reminiscent of last year’s 4A state quarterfinals matchup when Woodinville knocked off the Chargers — who were at that point the reigning state champions — by a single point in overtime.
“Even though this is a nonleague game, and not state or anything, I think we knew Kentridge really wanted to come out strong after how we beat them at state last year,” Falcons sophomore Mia Hughes said.
The Chargers did, and built a lead that reached as many as 16 points in the first half, before entering the break with a three-possession lead.
Woodinville (16-2) stayed within striking distance in the third quarter, outscoring the Chargers, 17-16, and capitalized when Jenkins — who picked up her fourth and fifth fouls within seconds of each other, on an offensive foul and a technical — left late in the period.
“I think one thing our team has been really good at all year is just staying strong throughout,” Hughes said. “Any other team can quickly get down by (16) and say, ‘Hey, we’re giving up.’ But, I think just all together as a team the bench is really encouraging, and everyone on the floor says, ‘If we want this in our hearts, we can get this game.’ ”
Hughes, who was regarded as one of the top players in the state last season as a freshman, led the late rally, scoring 10 of her game-high 37 points in the fourth quarter.
Veronica Sheffey nailed a 3-pointer to give the Falcons their first lead of the game with 1:38 to play, and Hughes added another basket on Woodinville’s next possession to push the lead to three points.
Tiffani Pham answered with 21 seconds left on a long 3-pointer before Hughes was fouled with 6.3 seconds to play. She missed both free throws, sending the game to overtime, but gave the Falcons what turned out to be the decisive basket seven seconds into the overtime period.
Kentridge kept the deficit manageable, and hit a 3-pointer with less than two seconds to play to cut the lead to 72-71, but Woodinville tossed the ball in-bounds to end it.
Madison DuBois added 11 points for the Falcons, while Sheffey had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Hughes shot 17 of 31 (54.8 percent) from the floor, and frustrated the Chargers throughout with a series of layups both in transition and on post-up moves. Hughes, who is 5-foot-10, was a consistent threat despite being at a size disadvantage to both Miller (6-4) and Jenkins (6-2).
“JaQuaya and Jordyn are both big girls, really talented players, but I think heart over size always matters to me,” Hughes said. “I just think if I can go out there with heart and play my hardest, no matter who I’m going against, that will just impact my whole game.
“Post game has always just been kind of my thing. I’m not really a shooter, I just know how to get strong on my posts. Throughout my years, I’ve just worked on a lot of post moves to be able to get around (defenders).”
Miller, who recorded 11 of her rebounds after Jenkins fouled out, said playing without the second starting big was difficult down the stretch.
“I always try to carry my team the best I can, whether she’s in the game or out of the game, but not having her was tough,” Miller said. “I tried to push through and make it work with the rest of my teammates.”
Both sides acknowledged this game seemed like a precursor for what’s to come in March. Hughes said the Falcons cannot get complacent after knocking off the state’s top-ranked team, while Miller is ready to see the Falcons again.
“This is just a preview of state,” Miller said.
W — Shooting: 26 of 67 (38.8 percent). Free throws: 17 of 26 (65.4). Turnovers: 7.
K — Shooting: 25 of 60 (41.7 percent). Free throws: 15 of 20 (75). Turnovers: 16.
W — Veronica Sheffey 10, Katie Minnehan 4, Madison DuBois 11, Morgan Lundquist 7, Rachel Moscatel 3, Mia Hughes 37.
K — Tiffani Pham 3, Hana McVicker 8, Dayla Ballena 8, Martina Lam 5, Jordyn Jenkins 17, JaQuaya Miller 30.