The rematch was a classic confrontation, and so much more.
But with the same painful result for a Kentridge girls basketball team trying to reclaim the 4A state throne.
Just as it did in a state quarterfinal playoff last March, Woodinville stunned the top-ranked Chargers on a neutral floor in overtime, this time rallying from 16 points down in the first half to pull out a 72-71 victory Monday in the Eric Anderson Classic of the King Showcase presented by Icelandic Glacial.
Ten-and-a-half months ago, the Falcons surprised the Chargers, the defending state champions, 55-54 on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. The rematch also went down to the wire as Woodinville erased an early nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime and survive the overtime drama.
“Tough one,” said Kentridge junior guard Dayla Ballena, leaving a quiet locker room at the accesso ShoWare Center. “We were coming out here for revenge. We knew we shouldn’t have lost last year.
“We definitely will see them again … at state,” she said. “It’s going to be a completely different game. We’re going to be completely prepared. We’re ready for revenge. We need to beat them.”
Having already locked up the North Puget Sound League Cascade Division title, Kentridge (16-2) must successfully navigate a difficult stretch of district and regional playoffs to return to the Hardwood Classic at the Tacoma Dome.
The loss snapped Kentridge’s six-game winning streak.
The Falcons (16-2) – No. 2 in the WIAA/Max Preps RPI rankings for 4A schools – are looking to return to the state championship game, which it lost to Central Valley of Spokane last March.
Both teams expect to meet in the postseason.
“I sure hope so,” said Kentridge coach Brad McDowell. “We’re going to see each other again somewhere, I have a feeling. I know our kids are looking forward to it.”
Monday’s game was very much a state playoff preview, with the cast playing at a high level.
Mia Hughes, the Falcons’ irrepressible 5-foot-10 sophomore guard, scored 37 points and collected four rebounds to spur the win.
“She’s strong, bigger than most guards and quicker than most posts,” McDowell said of Hughes. “She’s a tough, tough matchup to guard.”
JaQuaya Miller, the Chargers’ 6-4 senior who is bound for the University of Washington, scored 30 points, grabbed 24 rebounds and dished out three assists.
The Chargers relied heavily on Miller after Jordyn Jenkins, a 6-2 junior force, fouled out late in the third quarter. Jenkins picked up her fourth and fifth fouls – on a drive and subsequent technical – with 2:32 left in the period. The complexion of the game suddenly changed.
“It sort of went downhill after Jordyn fouled out,” Ballena said. “We really needed her.”
Miller tried to pick up the slack.
“She was really, really good, especially when Jordyn went out,” Falcons coach Scott Bullock said of Miller. ” … She was incredible (making 12 of 15) at the free throw line. … She was doing a little bit of everything. Great player.”
Woodinville and its quick-hitting transition game gradually dissolved Kentridge’s lead down the stretch. Veronica Sheffey’s trey and a Hughes bucket with 30 seconds left in regulation put the Falcons up 62-59 before the Chargers’ Tiffani Pham drilled a 3-pointer from the wing to tie the game with 22 seconds left.
In overtime, Hughes scored twice down low and Madison DuBois hit a 3-pointer to put Woodinville in front 69-64. Later, Miller hit a jumper and sank a pair of free throws to close the gap to 70-68, but DuBois added two free throws with 14.7 seconds left. The Chargers’ Hana McVicker’s 3-pointer cut it to 72-71, but the Falcons ran out the final second.
“It was tough,” McDowell said of the loss. “Obviously, having some foul trouble put us in a little bit of a bind rotation wise and from doing some of the things we wanted to do toward the end. Woodinville played tough. They hit some big shots. …
“I know they’re frustrated, and I’m mad, too. That’s just from losing, in general,” McDowell said. “My kids are unselfish, and they want to play together. … They work hard. I love my kids. They do great work.”
Miller added: “It’s not a shock to us. We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we didn’t think we were going to lose. … I know we will be right with them at state.”
Jenkins finished with 17 points and six rebounds. McVicker had eight points and seven rebounds. Ballena contributed eight points and two assists.
DuBois wound up with 11 points.
“It’s fun to win, but that game could have gone either way,” Bullock said. “(The win) tells us we’re right where we need to be. The nice thing it does for them is that it probably gives them more motivation the next time.”
The tournament was played in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights leader. It also honored Anderson, Kentridge High School’s longtime athletic director, teacher and coach, who died last year.