Kentridge freshman Jayla Brown takes the ball down the floor on a fast break. Photos by Ben Ray/Sound Publishing

Kentridge freshman Jayla Brown takes the ball down the floor on a fast break. Photos by Ben Ray/Sound Publishing

Basketball: Kentridge girls fall to Decatur in middle of playoff race

Kentridge High School lost just its second North Puget Sound League (NPSL) girls basketball game of the season to the Decatur Gators, 50-39, on Jan. 27.

Kentridge (13-5, 9-2 league) still sits in the middle of the playoff race but dropped to fourth in the NPSL standings.

The Chargers went into the game against Decatur allowing their opponents to score just under 40 points a game at 39.

“Defensively it was great, we were going 100% and giving it everything we had. Offensively we were just a little stuck,” said Kentridge coach Brad McDowell.

In the first quarter the Chargers struggled early, but their defense kept them in the game. By the end of the first quarter the Gators led 9-5.

The second quarter, the Chargers got in a groove. The key was the play from junior Sydney Esperanza.

“I think Sydney could be one of those MVP caliber type players,” McDowell said. “She doesn’t take any possessions off, she goes hard 100% of the time and as a coach I can’t ask for much more.”

Esperanza totalled 13 points and six rebounds in the first half alone. She also made a trio of three pointers jolting the Chargers to a 23-18 halftime lead.

In the second half, Decatur limited the Esperanza which hurt the Chargers and allowed Decatur to get back in the game. Kentridge still led after the third quarter, 30-27.

But the momentum had swung the way of the Gators. A team who coach McDowell gave full credit to.

“Their claim to fame is their defense,” McDowell said. “When you try to score and shots aren’t falling. …It makes it tough.”

In the fourth quarter, Decatur took the lead with 5:55 left and would never relinquished it. Turnovers, missed shots and foul trouble hamstrung the Chargers ability to create a comeback.

Kentridge is by far one of, if not the youngest team in the NPSL. There were three underclassmen in the starting lineup (one sophomore, two juniors), and there is just a single senior on the roster.

“The big picture look is, it might not be perfect now. But as we continue to progress as a group it’s going to get better and better,” McDowell said.

Esperanza led the Chargers with 22 points, eight rebounds, an assist and two steals, accounting for 56% of the Chargers points.

“She gives everything she has every single time she’s out there, I love her to death for that… I really appreciate all she’s done,” McDowell said.

Kentridge fell to Tahoma and Decatur but the Chargers are right in the mix of the playoff race.

“They’re ready, they’re excited. They want to be in the playoffs and prove that they are one of those top teams,” McDowell said.

Kentridge takes on Kennedy Catholic Feb. 2, before ending the regular season Feb. 4 at Kentwood.

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