Carlie Deskins had simple instructions: Go to the post. Wait for the ball. Shoot it if you get it.
With 8.5 seconds left, the W.F. West Bearcats had to go the length of the floor after Tumwater’s Isabella Lund buried a game-tying 3 to equalize it at 46. But Bearcats coach Kyle Karnofski took a timeout and drew up a play.
It had senior guard Madi Mencke drive the middle with Deskins lurking at the post. Mencke got into the key, calmly dished to Deskins, who banked in a layup through a tough foul and offered a roar of celebration as it was her old-fashioned three-point play that maintained WFW’s undefeated season after a compelling 49-46 contest Monday night in Chehalis.
“(Karnofski) just told me to go to the dump spot, just be a freshman, stand at the dump spot,” Deskins said. “But I saw it coming up and just crashed it and it was the best shot I’ve ever made in my life at the block.
“Yeah, that was crazy. Probably the best game of my life.”
That it was Deskins, a freshman, who made the game-winning shot might appear to be a surprise. That it wasn’t Mencke, or Drea Brumfield, might be surprising from the outside, but from the inside it made a lot of sense.
Deskins has been around the program for two years already, playing in summer league games as young as a seventh grader, getting to know the expectations and the system and her teammates.
She had made such an impression that the Bearcats roster had no doubts that Deskins could contribute any way she needed to. Deskins technically is a swinger, meaning she oscillates between the JV and varsity levels, but she isn’t a stranger to varsity minutes or tense situations.
She played sparingly in the first half, but made several important contributions in the subsequent half and finished witrh five rebounds.
For instance, with WFW beginning its charge in the fourth quarter, Deskins made a diving steal as Tumwater started a fast break. The sequence ended with a Lexi Roberts basket, giving WFW its first lead of the night at 36-35 and forcing a Tumwater timeout.
She barely left the floor, if ever, in the final period, then provided the exclamation point on the night.
“We have other girls that are willing to step aside. We don’t have egos,” Karnofski said. “Seeing juniors and sophomores like, ‘Hey, this freshman can do it,’ that shows a lot for our team.
“And she stepped up. She doesn’t play like a freshman. She is very smart, and to do that, to be able to make that and-one finish, that’s a heckuva play at the start of her career. Big things from her for the next four years.”
Perhaps the most impressive part of the whole evening was not the ending, but the beginning, and the contest that provides.
Tumwater went into the halftime break leading 24-18, and Brumfield was essentially a nonfactor, at least on the offensive end.
The T-Birds had Cassie Kaufman chasing the tall and skilled Brumfield all over the court, almost turning its defense into a box-and-one, but not quite.
Brumfield had just four first-half points, despite Karnofski trying to get her involved as the screener in the pick-and-roll. He hesitated to give her the ball and have her initiate and create. And for good reason.
“I didn’t want to force it to her to make her frustrated early on,” Karnofski said. “I wanted the game to come to her. And of course they’re gonna come after her. She’s averaging 20 points a game for a reason. She’s a darn good player. But when you think about it, same thing with Madi, when you know other girls are gonna step up — not forcing, she didn’t force. She did what she had to. She was great defensively. It just shows we’re not a one-girl show.”
That hesitation went away in the second half. Brumfield had five quick points in the third quarter — including a 3-pointer on the Bearcats’ initial possession in the quarter, then she had seven of the Bearcats’ first nine points to start the fourth, to finish with 14, with 10 coming after halftime. She also finished with eight rebounds.
Brumfield’s initial rainbow proved to relax the Bearcats. Kyla McCallum, who had 13 points, eight boards, four assists and two steals, did enough to shoulder the first-half scoring burden, netting eight points as Brumfield was biding her time.
But when it was time for the junior to take over, she did. Even if it was for a brief stretch. And it was needed.
“Drea’s like a big-time player. She’s definitely clutch,” Deskins said. “So when Drea came out and got those shots, it definitely lifted our team a whole bunch.”
WFW led by as many as five in the fourth quarter, with a Mencke free throw pushing the Bearcats ahead 45-40 with 1:50 to play.
Aubrey Amendala cut the lead to two with 1:28 left, then Natalie Sumrok had a chance to tie with just under a minute left, but it rolled out and Brumfield grabbed the rebound, fought off the pesky Tumwater guards, and got a jump ball call, which went WFW’s way.
McCallum split a pair of free throws at the other end, the only time WFW clanged a freebee in the final period, and Tumwater took a timeout to draw up a game-tying set.
Chaos ensued and Sumrok saved a loose ball in the corner, heaving it back into the middle. More chaos ensued, and Karnofski was bellowing for a timeout, but the lack of possession made the prospect impossible.
The ball found Lund, who ripped the net and sent Tumwater’s bench and supporters into a tizzy. But Karnofski and his inexperienced -- not young, mind you — didn’t panic. They made no assumptions. They pointed no fingers. They simply sat at attention while Karnofski drew up a play, then executed it as designed.
And left winners.
“We never panicked,” Karnofski said. “We talked about that (at halftime). Weather the storm. We talked about that the last couple weeks. There’s gonna be storms. We haven’t seen a bunch of those, but tonight there would probably be one, and we did.
“We drew something up, we executed it. And kudos to the girls. You can draw up everything you want, but it comes down to the girls making a play. And we had five girls screen, cut, pass back kick at the right time, lay-in. You had five girls make the five right plays at the right time.”
Tenino held Rochester to just 12 points in the second half as the Beavers came away with a 42-34 victory in the annual rivalry game against the Warriors on the road Monday.
The Beavers trailed 13-10 after one quarter, led by one after three then outscored the Warriors 13-6 in the final frame to secure the victory.
“They played a lot harder in the first half,” Tenino coach Scott Ashmore said of Rochester. “The fourth quarter was our best quarter.”
Tenino recovered from a subpar shooting performance (17-of-50) and missed about 10 2-foot shots, Ashmore estimated, despite getting good looks inside the paint.
The Beavers were able to find other ways to score, led by Ashley Schow’s game-high 16 points to go with 11 rebounds.
Alivia Hunter pulled down a game-high 12 boards, including seven offensive. Megan Letts chipped in 14 points.
“Letts was really scoring for us, which is what we needed,” Ashmore said. “And her defense was outstanding.”
The Warriors shot 12-of-50 from the field and were led by Sofie Sand’s 10 points, while Megan Elkins added six on two 3-pointers and Lauren Rotter contributed five.
Tenino (7-2, 5-1 league) travels to Hoquiam tomorrow to continue league play.
Rochester (3-4, 3-3 league) hosts Centralia on Wednesday in 2A EvCo action.
Centralia kept it close most the game but couldn’t complete the comeback in the final frame, falling 58-49 to visiting Aberdeen in 2A EvCo play Monday.
Freshman Emily Wilkerson led the Tigers with a team-high 17 points and 11 rebounds. Junior Jadyn Hawley added nine points and freshman Gracie Schofield chipped in eight.
“We’ve been working on some things, offensively, that have been paying off,” Centralia coach Doug Ashmore said. “Defensively, we’re not going in the right direction.”
The Tigers shot 38% from the field (16-for-42) and only 10-for-20 from the charity stripe.
Centralia (0-6, 0-6 league) travels to Rochester (3-4) on Wednesday.
Morton-White Pass led visiting Stevenson after the second and third quarters but collapsed in the fourth for a 47-40 C2BL loss on Monday
MWP trailed 9-8 after one quarter, led 26-21 at the break and held a 33-29 advantage heading into the final quarter before surrendering an 18-7 run to the Bulldogs to end the game.
It spoiled an impressive offensive performance by freshman guard McKenzee Mays, who scored 16 points, which included four 3-pointers. She drilled three in a row at one point.
Natalia Armstrong added seven points, Katelyn Gilstrap had nine and Keegan Ingalsbe finished with six.
MWP (2-8, 2-7 league) travels to Wahkiakum on Thursday.