Panthers on a road to redemption

Girls gain a key victory in Centralia

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Washougal High School seniors Haley Briggs, Crystal Chase and Jolynn Wenick got the Centralia Tigers off their backs.

The Tigers shredded the Panthers in the playoffs last season behind eight 3-pointers. Washougal amped up on defense in the rematch Dec. 29. Juniors RaeAnn Allen and Alyssa Blankenship also had breakout performances to help Washougal beat Centralia 50-48 in overtime.

The Panthers improved to 8-1 on the season with this victory on the road. Blankenship scored 19 points, grabbed six rebounds and snagged four steals. Allen added 15 points and seven rebounds. Wenick finished with five points and 13 rebounds. Chase notched seven points and Briggs had four.

“I love how we are grinding out wins,” said head coach Brian Oberg. “We didn’t fare well in games that got close last year. This year, we are keeping our chins up and playing hard through adverse situations and plays.”

Washougal capitalized on Centralia’s 29 turnovers, but only made 13 of its 29 attempts from the free throw line. Oberg said the Panthers had several shots on fast breaks roll off the rim.

“I really felt like we controlled them the entire game, but we have to finish better and start knocking down our free throws,” he said. “We are getting to the line almost double the amount of our opponents and not capitalizing on them. Once we get this corrected, we can really become a difficult team to contend with. Until then, hang on tight. It’s going to continue to be a bumpy ride.”

Washougal set the tone early by holding Centralia to two points in the first quarter.

“Our defense has been our savior. Those first two points were scored right off the tip. They wouldn’t score again for the entire quarter,” Oberg said. “We challenged the girls to get up on them and show our speed, strength and toughness right away.”

The Tigers turned the tables on a 15-7 swing in the second quarter to lead by two at halftime.

Blankenship netted nine points in the third quarter to help Washougal gain a 30-27 advantage. The Panthers had their chances to put the game away at the foul line in the fourth quarter, but only made seven of 15 shots. Centralia chipped away at the deficit and tied the game on a lay up with eight-tenths of a second on the clock to force overtime.

Washougal scored the first six points during the extra four-minute session and held on for the victory.

The Panthers head to Woodland tonight, before hosting Hockinson Friday and Mark Morris Tuesday, Jan. 13. All three games begin at 7 p.m.