Washougalites were rocking around the Christmas tree Wednesday night, watching the Panther girls basketball team beat Stevenson by 30 points.
The Panthers pounced the Bulldogs 59-29 on 23 points by Kendall Utter. She racked up 16 of those points in a phenomenal third quarter that saw Washougal outscore Stevenson 25-3.
“That was probably the most fun I’ve ever had,” Utter said. “It was awesome.”
Head coach Charlie Boyce elaborated on Utter’s unforgettable performance.
“I love seeing Kendall smile on the floor. She is a tremendously hard worker who is so hard on herself,” he said. “Whether it’s basketball, riding horses, or going to state in cross country or track; whatever she tries, she gives 110 percent. It’s nice to see her enjoy her success.”
Darcy Akers delivered 5 points, 6 assists and 9 rebounds. Sarah Brown, Savannah McDowell and Megan Townsend also fueled the all-around attack. McDowell and Townsend are taking advantage of extra playing time while Chandler Audette and Maddie Down are away from the team on vacation.
“These girls are just out there playing basketball, and it’s fun to watch,” Boyce said. “A new person steps up for us every night, and that should only make us a better team when we get back to full strength.”
Brown and Utter hit some long jumpers to begin the scoring for Washougal, and Townsend put two off the glass following a pass from McDowell. Akers and Utter each nailed a 3-pointer, and both combined on a basket by Sarah Mantay. Utter scored two more points off a rebound to give the Panthers a 17-13 lead after the first quarter.
McDowell scored six points in the second quarter off a rebound and basket, an assist from Townsend, and a steal and lay in on a fast break. She also grabbed a big rebound in the third quarter that led to a 3-pointer by Mantay. The rest of the third quarter belonged to Utter.
She and Brown hit back-to-back 3-pointers to begin the second half. Utter stole the ball, and took it all the way back for two points. Akers rolled around a couple of defenders and kicked the ball back out to Utter on the left wing. She nailed another 3-pointer, while drawing contact and a foul. She went to the line and made her shot for a 4-point play. Utter scored seven more points in the third quarter on three foul shots, and a couple of lay ups.
“I don’t even know how to describe it. It was shocking, almost,” she said of the offensive outburst in the third quarter. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”
Megan Sharp scored two points for the Panthers in the fourth quarter on an assist from Carolin Scheibel. Brown drove in for two points. Scheibel won a battle for a rebound, was fouled and made both shots from the line. Sharp added a third point from the charity stripe. Townsend drew a foul after stealing the ball and made both of her shots.
The Washougal girls are off to one of their best starts, with six victories in the first eight games of the season.
“It’s really encouraging, and it shows how much we’ve grown,” Utter said. “Our younger girls are so much better than we were as sophomores and freshmen, which gives us a lot of hope for the future.”
When the Panthers played at Stevenson Dec. 6, Washougal escaped with a 59-58 victory. Wednesday’s win was much more satisfying.
“After only beating them by one point the last time, it feels great to win by 30,” Boyce said.
The Panthers look forward to rekindling the rivalry with the Papermakers tonight, at Camas High School. The freshmen tip off at 4 p.m., followed by junior avrsity at 5:30 p.m. and varsity at 7 p.m.
“The games against the larger schools like Camas are now more within our reach,” Utter said. “As long as we play smart, give 110 percent on defense and try our best, that will make it the best game possible.”