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La Center girls lose, but look ahead to Yakima

Wildcats are in final 12 for Class 1A state tournament

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter
Published: February 25, 2017, 4:30pm

MOUNT VERNON — They lost a game for the first time this season, they lost a chance at getting a bye at the next stage, but the La Center Wildcats have not lost their confidence.

More importantly, their season is not lost.

“I think we played with them for two-and-a-half quarters, and then we couldn’t hit a shot,” La Center girls basketball coach Herm VanWeerdhuizen said after his team fell to Lynden Christian 56-38 in a Class 1A state regional round.

Sam Van Loo scored 16 points and Emmalee Bailey made four 3-pointers, leading Lynden Christian to this victory in the 2-7 seeding game at Mount Vernon High School.

The win sends Lynden Christian (23-1) directly to the state quarterfinals at the Yakima Valley SunDome on Thursday.

La Center (22-1) will play an elimination game in the round of 12 at the dome at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Every game makes us stronger. The competition helps us out,” said Molly Edwards, who led La Center with 15 points. “I think this will definitely help us.”

The Wildcats showed they could hang, for a half at least, with a team many believe is one of the top two or three in the state. La Center led by a point after the first quarter and trailed by six at the half after Bailey made three 3-pointers in the second quarter.

It was a three-point game midway through the third quarter before the Lyncs went on a 13-2 run to go up by 14 early in the fourth quarter.

Van Loo had 13 of her points in the second half.

Edwards was the lone Wildcat in double figures. Bethany Whitten added eight points. Whitley Seter had 10 rebounds for La Center.

The Wildcats just could not recover from its shooting performance: They were 12 of 54.

“It was terrible,” VanWeerdhuizen said. “Their defense definitely had something to do with it, but we had some good looks, too.”

“We were all just rushing our shots the whole game,” Edwards said.

As far as the Wildcats are concernted, though, that game is done.

The coach did not give a long post-game talk to the Wildcats. The message was clear: Time to move on to Yakima.

“Hopefully we have four games left,” VanWeerdhuizen said. “Gotta get the first one Wednesday. That’s the big one. There’s not going to be any cakewalks. But probably not going to be too many like Lynden Christian.

“We gotta have people step up,” he said. “We’ll be alright.”

Edwards said the Wildcats already have the right frame of mind.

“It’s rough going undefeated the whole season and then getting your first loss,” she said. “We just all have to step it up and keep playing hard.”

Plus, they have to believe they won’t shoot 22 percent again this season.

“Next game, we’ll be fine. We just have to focus,” Edwards said. “We’ll hit our shots. It will come.”

LA CENTER — Alyssa McKnight 0, Whitley Seter 2, Molly Edwards 15, Bethany Whitten 8, Taylor Mills 7, Taylor Stephens 6. Totals 12 (2) 12-18 38.
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN — Torina Hommes 2, Isabela Hernandez 10, Macki Vander Veen 0, Riley Dykstra 5, Sam Van Loo 16, Avery Dykstra 2, Shyann Brandsma 0, Liv Mellema 0, Emmalee Bailey 12, Grace Sterk 9. Totals 19 (6) 12-18 56.
La Center    8    10    10    10—38
Lyn. Chr.    7    17    13    19—56

Columbian High School Sports Reporter