TACOMA – For the North Central girls basketball team, the defense never rests.
And if the Indians hope to have a chance against heavily favored and No. 1-ranked Holy Names, they will probably have to play one of their best defensive games of the year.
Shoot, the Indians get off the bus playing defense first before they think about offense. It was apparent again Thursday afternoon when NC handled the Auburn Mountainview Lions 53-39 in a State 3A quarterfinal at the Tacoma Dome.
Now the Indians (18-8) will likely have to play the defense of their lives Friday night when they take on No. 1-ranked and heavily favored Holy Names (27-0). Tipoff is at 5:30.
The Indians got out to an 8-0 start – emphasis on the zero, not on the points they scored. The Lions didn’t score their first points until the 2-minute, 15-second mark of the first period.
“It started with defense again tonight,” NC coach Gabe Medrano said. “Luckily, today, it lead to some good offense.”
At halftime NC led 26-13, and by the fourth quarter the Lions (22-8) had seen enough of the smothering defense. NC built its biggest lead at 42-24.
Usual leading scorers Riley Holsinger and Tara Van Weerdhuizen had lots of help, too. Hailey Markham-Patti, Kalen Via and Britney Konynenbelt combined for 26 points, led by Markham-Patti’s 11.
Holsinger had an off shooting game (2 of 10 from the field), but she did many other things. She had a team-high nine points, eight steals and seven assists. Van Weerdhuizen had a team-high 14 points to go with seven blocked shots.
Holsinger said the Indians didn’t feel any nerves despite playing their first game at the Tacoma Dome.
“A lot of players stepped up and hit their shots,” Holsinger said. “I think we were more excited than anything.”
Medrano asked his assistant coach what the mood of the team was in the locker room before the game. The report back was the Indians were focused and ready to play.
That’s all Medrano needed to hear.
“They did a great job of moving the ball around and finding the open player,” he said. “That was nice to see and that helps the defense a little bit when you can score some points.”
Now the Indians must find a way to stop talented Holy Names.
“The task will be the same,” Medrano said. “We need to take care of the basketball, make them take tough shots and see if we can work it around and get ourselves some good shots.”
The Indians got out to an 18-13 lead in the first quarter, but that margin dwindled by halftime when the Grizzlies pulled within 27-25.
It remained a two-point game through three periods before the Grizzlies outscored the Indians 16-4 and went on to win 51-41.
Glacier Peak owned the boards, outrebounding NC 35-23. Especially effective for the Grizzlies was Zach Pederson, who had 18 rebounds to go with a team-high 15 points.
NC shot well in the first half, making 11 of 21 shots from the field. But the Indians went cold in the final two periods, making just 5 of 22.
Zac Hill led NC with 19 points, nine rebounds and two steals.