LA CENTER — Lookout, Trico League. The La Center girls basketball team has woken up.
“Those tough non-league games we played last month, those really woke us up,” La Center coach Brittney Stryker said. “It was like ‘Whoa, there are some things we need to work and get better at.’ ”
If Wednesday’s night matchup with Seton Catholic is any indication, the wake-up call has paid off.
Kylee Stephens scored 28 points and Gianna D’Emilio added 16 as the Wildcats’ huge second quarter propelled them to a 64-34 rout of the visiting Cougars.
“We didn’t think like ‘oh this is going to be an easy game for us,” Stephens said. “So we came out more determined than the last time we played them.”
La Center (10-5, 5-0 Trico League) kicked off Trico League play with a 44-27 win over Seton Catholic on Jan. 6. That win is one of six straight games the Wildcats have won since back-to-back losses to 1A power Montesano and Washougal, a ranked 2A team in December.
“I definitely think that our early season games, since we had a really hard preseason, it kind of shaped all of us — individuals, swing, JV, varsity,” Stephens said. “It shaped all of us to think of things that we could benefit from those games. We all had bad games. I had a bad game. And we took what we learned from those games — shooting, driving, passing — overall just being a team. … In league games, we have played 10 times more like a team than we did in those early games.”
After trading baskets to open Wednesday’s game with Seton, the Wildcats went on a 16-3 run to end the first quarter. Then La Center outscored the Cougars 22-3 in the second quarter to blow the game open.
And while Stephens 19 points and D’Emilio each had 13 points in the first half, Talia Wise also contributed nine points inside.
“I think we are showing that we’re more than just one player,” Stryker said. “And that’s going to crucial as we move through the rest of the season and into the playoffs.”
The Wildcats have two more home games before capping the regular season at King’s Way Christian on Feb. 3.
“We have probably a league championship (at stake) with King’s Way,” Stephens said. “And that will be a really good game, I think. I’m pretty excited for that one.”
LA CENTER 64, SETON CATHOLIC 34
SETON CATHOLIC — Lauryn Bowyer 0, Abigail Wall 0, Nalwanga Nsubgua 2, Kiera Williams 5, Maddie Willis 4, Hannah Jo Hammerstrom 10, Alyssa Mancuso 7, Annie Marichalar 0, Kasey Clifton 4, Hailey Hammerstrom 2. Totals 14 (2) 4-6 34.
LA CENTER — Jessie Tomberlin 0, Gianna D’Emilio 16, Billie Ross 5, Pearl Muhareb 0, Annabelle Atwood 4, Talia Wise 9, B Mekenzie Schockelt 0, Kylee Stephens 28, Malyah Cooley 2. Totals 25 (6) 8-15 64.
Seton 7 3 16 18—34
La Center 21 22 13 8—64
JV — Seton Catholic 33-19.