Kentridge’s JaQuaya Miller looks to receive the ball down low as Kentlake’s Aolani Calderon defends during NPSL Cascade Division play Friday night. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

All charged up | 4A girls basketball

Kentridge runs away from Kentlake, snags co-lead in NPSL Cascade Division

This time, Kentridge was ready.

More than a month removed from a seven-point loss at Kentlake, the Chargers erupted early and often to thump the Falcons 50-33 in a North Puget Sound League Cascade Division 4A girls basketball showdown at the Kentridge High School gymnasium on Friday night.

The fourth-ranked Chargers (11-1 in league, 17-1 overall) stretched their winning streak to 11 games and prevented the No. 3 Falcons (11-1, 16-2) from clinching at least a share of the division title with two regular-season games left on the schedule. The rankings reflect the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Ratings Percentage Index (RPI).

Kentridge came out aggressive, dominated down low and squeezed turnovers – and some life – out of cold-shooting Kentlake. The Chargers forced 11 miscues, triggering an attack that built a 26-12 halftime lead.

“They just took it to us. We decided to turn the tide a little bit,” said Kentridge coach Bob Sandall, alluding to his team’s 52-45 loss at Covington five weeks ago. “It was a real physical game. You saw the battles out there. Kids got knocked down. We were outstanding. I thought our kids really responded well.

“The kids really played inspired defense,” Sandall added. “We’ve been working on that and all the fundamental things that we need to do. It’s especially rewarding to do it against a team like this that runs their offense so well. We were just in the right spots.”

JaQuaya Miller, Kentridge’s 6-foot-4 sophomore center, set the tone, scoring eight of her game-high 14 points in the first half. Miller was hard to stop in the pivot as she broke loose to score on spin-move drives and powerful put-backs.

“She’s good, she’s very good,” said Kentlake coach GC Hillburn.

On Thursday night, Iowa offered Miller a scholarship, one of several universities lining up to court her skills. On Friday, she stayed focused on the task at hand.

“We prepared well for them. we were ready. We decided we were not going to lose to them again,” said Miller, who grabbed seven rebounds in the game. “We got better since that game. … We wanted to shut the post down and do whatever we could to win.”

Morgan Gary, a 5-9 junior guard, contributed 10 points to the runaway win.

“We were ready. … We wanted it more than they did, I feel like,” Gary said. “We didn’t know how this game was going to go but we really wanted to win it. We worked hard for it.”

Jordyn Jenkins, a 6-1 freshman, had nine points and senior guard Bronte Fougere finished with six points for Kentridge.

Aniston Denckla led Kentlake with eight points. Jada Leonard had seven points. Gabby Bruno was held to three points.

The Falcons struggled from the start, fell behind and never fully recovered.

Kentlake went scoreless for the first 5 1/2 minutes of the third quarter as Kentridge went on a 14-0 spree to put the game out of reach. The Chargers led by as many as 28 points in the second half.

“We couldn’t control tempo … and didn’t shoot well, ” Hillburn said. “My kids really did fight in the second half … we just had a really poor night shooting wise and offensively, and that really didn’t help us.”

For Kentridge, the division title remains up for grabs – for now.

“We have a chance, and that’s the thing,” Sandall said.

Both teams expect a rematch come playoff time.

“We can hope for another shot at them,” Hillburn said.

Kentridge coach Bob Sandall shouts instruction during the Chargers’ win. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

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