CHEHALIS — When McKenna Mulder showed up to the gym under the weather Friday, her coach didn’t even let her contemplate sitting out Woodland’s district tournament game against La Center.
“I told her she had to play,” Glen Flanagan said. “She didn’t have a choice.”
With La Center’s all-league post Samantha Wise out with a season-ending injury, Flanagan knew his 6-foot-1 post would play a pivotal role in the Beavers’ girls basketball game.
And he was right. Mulder finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds to lead Woodland to a 41-30 win over rival La Center.
The win put Woodland back into the state tournament for the first time since 2006, and it ended La Center’s season.
“Our game plan was to get the ball into McKenna as much as we could, and that seemed to pay off,” Flanagan said.
Mulder has four points in the first quarter, six in the second and 10 in the third as the Beavers mounted a 35-20 lead.
Woodland’s defense also held Katie Whitten, the Trico League co-MVP, to one point in the first half. Whitten tallied 12 points in the second half as La Center whittled the deficit down to single digits in the fourth.
But Woodland made sure the Wildcats got no closer than eight points before sealing the victory.
“We played hard,” La Center coach Herm VanWeerdhuizen said. “But without (Wise) in there, their big girl beat us. We tried to stay with them, but we just couldn’t by a basket in the first half.”
Kendall Grell had six points and nine rebounds, while Jessica Flanagan added six points, seven rebounds and four assists for Woodland.
“This is a big feat for a bunch of freshmen and sophomores,” Glen Flanagan said of his team. “We made it to state seven straight years until reclassification (in 2007). It’s great to get back. Just getting to play at least two more games is huge for our development.”
After six years at Class 2A, Woodland moved back to 1A this school year.
La Center also has a young team. Whitten finished with 13 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Andrea Griffee had seven rebounds and Katie Hebdon added eight. Rachel Moudy had 11 points, five steals and four assists.
“They played their hearts out,” VanWeerdhuizen said. “But it’s tough when you don’t have a full team. We just didn’t have enough in the tank tonight.”
Woodland will play Hoquiam on Saturday in Chehalis for state seeding, then advance to the Mount Vernon regional next Friday.
WOODLAND 41, LA CENTER 30
WOODLAND — Kendall Grell 6, Amber Malik 0, Jessica Flanagan 6, McKenna Mulder 22, Sidra Malik 7, Gracey Trice 0, Kate Cochran 0. Totals 16-42 (1) 8-13 41.
LA CENTER — Katie Whitten 13, Danielle Larson 0, Hannah Crome 0, Katie Hebdon 2, Andrea Griffee 1, Rachel Moudy 11, Sierra Bloch 0, Ashley Denney 3, Amanda Moudy 0. Totals 11-44 (3) 5-10 30.
Woodland 9 12 14 6–41
La Center 8 4 8 10–30