LA CENTER — Sometimes in basketball the best offense is a good defense.
But for long stretches in Tuesday’s 1A district semifinal game, it was the La Center girls basketball team’s only offense.
Turnovers and a rough shooting night overshadow a stellar defensive effort for the Wildcats in their 27-21 loss to Tenino.
La Center (13-7) will play Eatonville on Thursday in a loser-out game at Fort Vancouver.
“It felt like there was a lid on the basket most of the game for us,” La Center coach Brittney Stryker said. “And it felt like we had a glimmer of hope starting out the second half, having a little burst of energy right off. But then fell back in the pattern of the first half again. It just killed.”
Down 18-5 late in the second quarter, Jesse Tomberlin hit a 3-pointer to cap the first half. Then the Wildcats hit two quick baskets to open the third quarter to cut the margin to 18-12.
Tenino responded with two baskets to make it 24-12, but managed just three points the rest of the way.
“I thought the girls executed the (defensive) game plan pretty well,” Stryker said. “But not a whole lot else went our way.”
The Wildcats were able to cut the margin to 26-20, needing just one basket to get them right back in it. But that basket never came.
“And I think that was the hardest part, just seeing that it was so close, but every miss was just holding us back every time,” Stryker said.
Gianna D’Emilio led La Center with eight points, and Kylee Stephens scored just five, well below their season averages.
Now, Stryker hopes the Wildcats can regroup and advance to state through the loser-out bracket.
“That’s the hope, that there are some takeaways from this game,” Stryker said. “You know, they kind of let this feeling sink in and don’t want it to happen again.”
TENINO 27, LA CENTER 21
TENINO — Grace Vestal 2, Megan Letts 3, Abby Severse 5, Rilee Jones 0, Kayla Feltus 0, Ashley Schow 8, Alivia Hunter 9. Totals 11 (1) 4-11 27.
LA CENTER — Jesse Tomberlin 3, Gianna D’Emilio 8, Annabelle Atwood 5, Talia Wise 0, Alyse Webberley 0, Kylee Stephens 5, Malyiah Cooley 0. Totals 7 (2) 5-15 21.
Tenino 10 8 6 3—27
La Center 1 7 8 5—21