YAKIMA — It was not the result La Center hoped for.
It certainly wasn’t the finish the Wildcats believed they deserved.
So when the La Center girls filed off the court as a team for the last time, tears welling in the eyes of some in the wake of a 49-27 season-ending 1A state tournament consolation loss to Lakeside, head coach Herm VanWeerdhuizen tried to show his players the big picture.
Especially the team’s five seniors.
“You’ve got to be proud,” VanWeerdhiuzen said. “They’ve had a great four years. Three district championships, three or four league titles is nothing to hang their head about.”
That’s what made Friday’s loss in the Yakima Valley SunDome so tough to digest for the team.
Senior forward Taylor Mills, who played almost every minute of the Wildcats’ state campaign on a rolled ankle,
“It’s bittersweet,” Mills said. “It stings a lot that we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish, but at the end of the day, we got to walk off as our five seniors who have played all four year and know that we have each others’ backs – that was nice.”
Mills, guard Alyssa McKnight, guard Molly Edwards, forward Whitley Seter and point guard Bethany Whitten all finish their senior seasons with deepest postseason run in four years.
The coaches, Mills said, reminded the team as much in the locker room after the game.
“Everyone’s really proud of us, and we battled for adversity and we should be proud of what we’ve done over the past four years,” Mills said.
It was La Center’s lowest scoring output of the season. The team averaged over 60 points per game on the year, but couldn’t buy a bucket on Thursday or Friday. No individual Wildcat reached double digits scoring. And similar to their loss to Medical Lake on Thursday, a fourth quarter scoring drought did them in.
“We just couldn’t buy a basket,” VanWeerdhuizen said. “We’ve got to have people stepping up and hitting shots and we couldn’t get those shots. That hurt.”
They were outscored 19-1 in the final eight minutes of play. Shots stopped falling.
Shooting guard Molly Edwards, who missed Thursday’s game with a separated shoulder suffered in the game Wednesday, started but was limited in her range of motion. And the Wildcats missed her shooting sorely. Since it was her right shoulder injured, she was not able to provide a 3-point threat.
But having her in the rotation helped, VanWeerdhuizen said, as she helped disperse the minutes among the rotation of guards.
Said Mills: “We didn’t get the result we wanted, but we all played really hard. Even the people who were sick, hurt shoulders, we all played really tough. I think we’re one of the toughest teams, we just fell short.”
LAKESIDE (NINE MILE FALLS) 49, LA CENTER 27
LA CENTER—Whitley Seter 2, Molly Edwards 0, Bethany Whitten 6, Taylor Mills 5, Taylor Stephens 8, Sierra Frasier 0, Katie Nelson 0, Alyssa McKnight 6, Natasha Lewis 0, Madison Rose 0, Mia Edwards 0. Totals 8-45 (6-31) 5-10 27.
LAKESIDE—Rylee Thomas 4, Maiya Martinez 3, Sienna Swannack 17, Kendra Gay 8, Hallie Jensen 8, Riley Reed 0, Julie Boykin 0, Joy Mahowald 9, Anna Rehewaldt 0, Lauren Hartman 0, Ashley Jacobson 0. Totals 15-45 (4-15) 15-19 36.
La Center 7 13 6 1—27
Lakeside 8 13 9 19—49