MOUNT VERNON — With a boys basketball team as talented as fifth-ranked Cedar Park Christian sitting on the other bench, it's best not to allow many first-opportunities, let alone second and third chances.
La Center allowed way to many opportunities of any kind during its Class 1A regional on Saturday at Mount Vernon High School, allowing the Eagles nine offensive rebounds, and Cedar Park of Bothell burned the Wildcats, scoring 15 second-chance points to claim a 74-51 victory and end La Center's season one game short of the state quarterfinals in Yakima.
"I don't know that they did anything really special tonight," La Center coach Jon Schroeder said. "They were just more tenacious following their shots."
It didn't take the Eagles (20-2) long to establish that advantage.
After spotting the Wildcats (17-9) the game's first two points on a pre-game technical foul, Trey Drechsel tied the game on the Eagles' second possession with a put-back bucket.
Next trip down the floor, it was Evan Scholten crashing the offensive boards to give Cedar Park a lead it would not relinquish. And one possession later, Drechsel got the offensive rebound and was fouled in the process. He converted both free throws and it was 6-2 less than two minutes in.
It was a trend that was repeated over and over throughout the first half, as the Eagles turned seven offensive rebounds into 11 points. In fact the only time they didn't convert an offensive board into points, Isaiah Penchion grabbed another board and converted a third-chance score.
"They killed us there," Schroeder said. "You can't allow good teams second- and third-opportunities like that, and they exposed and exploited us."
When Cedar Park wasn't exploiting that, it was taking advantage of the 20 Wildcat miscues it forced, including 12 via steals, to produce 21 points off turnovers.
Scholten led a quartet of Eagles in double figures with 20 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three steals and four blocked shots. Drechsel and Luke Saufferer scored 13 points, while Daniel Christenson recorded 12.
Wyatt Aguirre led the Wildcats with 19 points.
"We told our guards that they needed to get to the rim," Schroeder said. "This is the postseason, and the refs are going to let a little more go, so it's time to be physical and aggressive, and I thought he did a good job of that."
Though Aguirre is only a sophomore, La Center lists four seniors on its regional roster, including Austin Myers, who pulled down a team-high eight rebounds to go with his six points, and Jeremiah Arn, who scored eight.
"I think this has been a very successful season for us," Schroeder said. "You look back at the history of this program over the last 10 years, and this is our first year to get to the playoffs and win a game. And we got five wins. … We took third in our district to get to this game. When you get to this level you're going to run into some pretty talented teams, and we definitely did that today."
CEDAR PARK CHRISTIAN 74, LA CENTER 51
LA CENTER (17-9) — Connor Wonderly 4, Dylan King 2, Jonathan Griffee 0, Jamison Benitez 3, Matt Braaten 5, Wyatt Aguirre 19, Chase Davison 0, Jeremiah Arn 8, Max Hiller 0, Zach Brown 2, Levi VanTol 2, Austin Myers 6. Totals 19-56 6-7 51.
CEDAR PARK CHRISTIAN (20-2) — Nate Lundberg 0, Trey Drechsel 13, Ben Anderson 3, Anthony Almeida 4, Luke Saufferer 13, Evan Scholten 20, David McLaurin 1, Daniel Chris-tenson 12, Isaiah Penchion 8. Totals 31-63 7-12 74.
La Center 11 16 13 11—51
Cedar Park Christian 18 23 22 11—74
3-ptg: La Center 5-11 (Aguirre 3), Cedar Park Christian 3-12 (Drechsel, Saufferer, Scholten). Rebounds: La Center 31 (Myers 8), Cedar Park Christian 37 (Scholten 9, Penchion 9). Assists: La Center 9 (King 2), Cedar Park Christian 17 (Drechsel 3, Saufferer 3, Scholten 3). Fouls: La Center 11, Cedar Park Christian 12. Turnovers: La Center 20, Cedar Park Christian 14.