The Century girls basketball team knew what it was in for.
The Jaguars, hosting talented West Linn on Tuesday, Jan. 7, knew the Lions would come at them hard, knew that West Linn would provide pressure, but also knew that they'd get better along the way.
In the end, West Linn raced past Century 76-42 in non-league play at Century High School.
"(We needed to) handle pressure a lot better than we did in the first half, but I feel pretty prepared (for league) because we've played several tough teams in a row and they all pressured so we've gotten better at handling that," said Century senior post Amy Walkenhorst, who led her team with 14 points (on 7 of 10 shooting from the field), along with six rebounds and two blocks.
"We just needed to execute and make sure we were in our spots and do what we needed to do," added Century senior guard Angela Baltazar, who finished with nine points (on 4 of 7 shooting from the field and a 1 of 2 day at the foul line). "We played them last year so we knew what to expect."
With the win, the Lions improved to 6-4 overall, while the Jaguars lost for the third straight time and fell to 4-7 overall.
"At practice all week, we've been practicing really hard not just to beat them, but to practice everything we've been (working on) and kill them," said West Linn junior wing Payton Shelstad, who finished with 11 points (on 4 of 10 shooting from the field with one 3-pointer and a 2 of 2 day at the foul line), along with five steals and four assists.
"It was good to go against someone who doesn't know our plays and actually be able to run them and see if we run them right and see if they work," said West Linn junior wing Audrey Roden, who led all scorers with 20 points (on 9 of 22 shooting from the field with two "threes"), along with seven steals, five rebounds, two assists and one block.
While the Lions eventually won going away, the Jaguars did their best to stay close early on. They got seven first-quarter points from junior guard Katie McKinley and trailed just 9-7 after a McKinley "three" midway through the period, and just 13-9 following two foul shots by junior post Crystal Garza with 3 minutes, 6 seconds remaining in the quarter.
But Roden was on her game in the opening frame, hitting six of her last seven shots in the period and scoring 13 points while junior teammate Aaronette Vonleh added six of her 16 points to give the Lions a 27-13 edge after one period. The Lions also benefitted from their fullcourt press and on-ball pressure, forcing 12 Century turnovers in the frame.
Already in control, the Lions extended their lead even further in the second quarter, putting together a 13-4 run in the first 6:06 of the period to take a 40-17 edge when Shelstad took a pass from sophomore Isabella McVicker and buried a 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:54 remaining in the half.
Walkenhorst brought her team within 42-25 when she scored on a broken play in the final second of the half, and the Jaguars then followed up with their best defensive quarter of the game.
Century held West Linn to just 5 of 14 shooting in the third quarter, and while the Jaguars didn't make huge inroads — they went 5 of 10 in the period with eight points from Walkenhorst — they kept their deficit to 53-35 when Walkenhorst took a pass from senior Olivia Boone and scored with 1:54 to go in the period.
The Lions weren't having any of it, however, and closed the game with a 23-7 scoring edge in the fourth quarter, getting four points each from Roden, Vonleh and sophomore Audrey Kehoe, along with a "three" by sophomore Olivia McVicker to put the game away.
"Once we got up big, we just started working on all our plays and doing everything extra," Shelstad said.
The Lions' pressure paid big dividends in the contest, forcing 31 Century turnovers in the contest.
"We were going to come out in man, but we ended up in our half-court press and it worked so we stayed in that," Roden said. "I think we ran it really well. That was probably one of the best times we've run it this year."
On their side of the ledger, the Jaguars remained focused on getting better and preparing for Pacific Conference play.
"Obviously, (we need to work on) defense, but we also need to work on offense, being able to execute 100% of the time or at least as much as we can," Baltazar said.
Vonleh finished with 16 points (on 7 of 12 shooting from the field and a 2 of 2 day at the line), along with four rebounds, while sophomore Campbell Sheffield added eight points and McVicker seven.
Beyond Walkenhorst's 14 and Baltazar's nine, McKinley added seven points and junior Mya Smith five.
Next up, West Linn opens TRL play at Lakeridge at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, while Century hosts Lakeridge in non-league play at 5:45 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10.
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