Rochester held a slim margin for the first five minutes here at W.F. West on Tuesday. The next 27 minutes felt more or less like a lifetime for the Warriors, though, as the Bearcats stormed back for a 58-32 victory in their Evergreen 2A Conference girls basketball tilt.
From the jump Paige Winter appeared to be on a one-woman mission to keep the Warriors in contention. She scored eight points and snagged three rebounds in the first quarter alone but still saw a 6-2 lead evaporate into a 14-9 deficit by the end of the period. Winter would finish the game with a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep W.F. West from running roughshod over Rochester.
“She’s a great player. She’s scored over a thousand and averaging well over double digits. So ya, we had a game plan for her tonight,” said W.F. West coach Kyle Karnofski of Winter. “She was going after Wilt’s record there for awhile.”
Rochester coach Davina Serdahl confirmed that the Bearcats were able to make meaningful adjustments to keep Winter from taking over the game, a la Wilt Chamberlain.
“They took her out of her low post game and she slid up. The other thing was we struggled hitting shots from the outside,” Serdahl said. “That would have opened some things up.”
After taking a 25-13 lead into the intermission the Bearcats were kept off balance for the bulk of the third quarter, thanks to a renewed defensive effort by the Warriors. On several occasions Rochester was even able to cut the W.F. West lead to seven points as Kourtney Kerbaugh made an honest living cleaning the glass and dumping in second-chance points down low.
However, the fourth quarter was not so kind to the visitors as W.F. West implemented a full court press and didn’t call off the dogs until they’d run out to a 20-point lead. When the smoke from the scorched nets had cleared the air W.F. West had won the final quarter 25-5 for their final advantage.
“We just needed to pick up our defense. We always say that our defense will get our offense going. I think we came out that way but we’ve got to learn how to play four quarters,” explained Serdahl. “The full court press is something that we’ve got to learn how to take care of. We just panic.”
Drea Brumfield helped spark that impressive closing run by the Bearcats and finished with a team-highs in points (13), rebounds (five), and blocks (three). Taya McCallum added seven points and four rebounds, while Makayla Mencke notched nine points on a trio of first-quarter three pointers.
Karnofski was pleased with the way Mencke came in and took advantage of the opportunities that came her way.
“She’s a girl that’s a spot-up shooter. That second crew that came in they lit the fire tonight and set the tone. They kept us in it and did a good job,” said Karnofski. “Kudos to (Mencke) for stepping up on the spot and going in and doing that. That’s huge for a sophomore coming off the bench, especially in a situation where she hasn’t really been put into.”
W.F. West shot 42% from the field on 52 shots. Maggie Vadala added six points, and a team-high in both assists (six) and steals (four). Kyla McCallum scored three points while grabbing five rebounds and dishing five assists.
Meanwhile, Rochester struggled to find their stroke on the night, especially from outside the paint. The Warriors connected on just 26% of their 46 field goal attempts, including a woeful 1 of 16 mark from beyond the arc. On a positive note, Rochester used all of those misses to win the rebound battle 31-24 over W.F. West.
Kortney Kerbaugh finished the contest with six points and nine rebounds for Rochester. Megan Elkins and Lexi Sederberg-Jones each grabbed four rebounds for the Warriors.
“I thought we rebounded well and blocked out well. I thought Kortney and Paige got some big offensive rebounds,” said Serdahl. “But we’ve got to take better care of the ball. It seemed like they always had seven players to our five the way they were flying around.”
Rochester (8-5, 1-2 league) will host Black Hills on Thursday.
W.F. West (8-4, 2-1 league) will play at Tumwater on Thursday.