WASHOUGAL — It was the first home district playoff game in program history, and the last home game for the seniors on the Washougal girls basketball team.
Those two things made it special enough for the Panthers. Then Alyssa Blankenship made for an even better Friday night.
Blankenship scored 34 points, leading Washougal to a 69-51 victory over Centralia in the opening round of the Class 2A District 4 girls basketball tournament. Washougal (17-4) advances to the semifinals to face Black Hills at R.A. Long High School in Longview at 7:45 p.m. Monday.
“I’m just glad I was hitting all my shots,” Blankenship said. “I’ve been practicing for this. I was waiting for it. Tonight was my night.”
Blankenship made three 3-pointers in the first quarter — one that she added a free throw for a four-point play — and the Panthers were on their way.
“It just boosted my confidence and pushed me the rest of the game,” Blankenship said.
Centralia called two timeouts in the first quarter, the coaching staff imploring the Tigers to never leave Blankenship.
“That just gets me going,” Blankenship said. “I like to know that they want to stop me and they have to if they want to be in the game.”
They did not on this night, and they weren’t in the game.
Blankeship had 19 by halftime, then buried another 3-pointer to open Washougal’s scoring in the second half after the Tigers had scored the first three points of the third quarter.
“We beat them by quite a bit earlier (this season), but we also played a really good game,” Blankenship said. “We knew we had to come out with the same intensity to do this again. We know they’re a good team.”
The lead grew to as many as 27 in the fourth quarter.
Blankenship finished 11 of 18 from the floor, with five 3-pointers.
“She was just on fire in practice, and it carried over,” Washougal coach Brian Oberg said. “She was ready. Same with Rae. You could tell they were ready.”
RaeAnn Allen had 12 points and eight rebounds, along with four steals and five assists.
Madi Crews led Centralia with 25 points. She made four 3-pointers.
This night belonged to Washougal, though. Not just the team, but the community. The Panthers shared the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League title, the first league championship in program history, which led to the first home district playoff game.
“There are so many people behind us, supporting us,” Blankenship said. “It just makes us go. Hearing them cheer for us and having such a big crowd. I wouldn’t want to be a part of any other community.”
Oberg said the team hyped up the playoff game to make sure there would be a big crowd. The players loved the atmosphere, he said, and then they got a big win for the bonus.
Plus, there was the epic performance from Blankenship.
“What a memory for her, the school, and the kids,” Oberg said. “Just awesome for the program.”
WASHOUGAL 69, CENTRALIA 51
CENTRALIA — Madi Crews 25, Hayden Blaser 2, Chloee Atkins 4, Ellie Corwin 9, Maddie Fast 7, Hannah Porter 2, Rachel Wilkerson 2, Chelsea Petrino 0, Courtney Leifer-Carlson 0. Totals 17 (5) 12-18 51.
WASHOUGAL — Maggie Hungerford 6, Beyonce Bea 8, Sarah Shilling 0, Kassidy Baldwin 0, Lindsey Thomas 1, RaeAnn Allen 12, Ashley Gibbons 0, Kiara Cross 1, Kaitlyn Reijonen 0, Alissa Lenczowski 4, Sierra Carroll 3, Alyssa Blankenship 34, Kayla Donahue 0. Totals 26 (8) 9-17 69.
Centralia 10 10 13 18–51
Washougal 17 18 23 11–69