By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
EDMONDS — Twenty-five points, six 3-pointers.
Most players would be happy to have those statistics for an entire game — Natalie Kasper did it in one half.
Kasper’s game-high 32 points led Edmonds-Woodway to a 61-50 nonleague victory over Mountlake Terrace on Tuesday.
The Warriors found themselves behind 16-2 early as they struggled to stop the Hawks on defense and couldn’t seem to get anything going offensively. Then Kasper took over, making 3-point shot after 3-point shot, many from well beyond the arc, until the Warriors finally took control of the game.
“I just had a lot of energy and I saw that we were down so I just kind of wanted to take control,” Kasper said.
The Warriors fell behind 7-0 right off the bat. Kasper ended the scoring drought with a 2-point basket to cut the deficit to 7-2, but the Hawks kept piling it on. Down 16-2, Kasper hit her first 3-pointer. The next time down the court she converted an old fashioned three-point play, getting fouled while making a driving layup and then making her free throw. She added one more 3-pointer before the end of the first period. The Hawks, however, still had a comfortable 18-11 lead.
All 11 of the Warriors’ first-quarter points belonged to Kasper.
In the second quarter, she picked up where she left off, making three 3s early in the period to cut the Mountlake Terrace lead to 22-20. All 20 of the Warriors points belonged to Kasper.
Her hot shooting seemed to trigger something in her teammates, who came alive. Other players started to score and Edmonds-Woodway took its first lead of the game with 2:40 to play in the first half.
“That was good, I was so proud of them,” Kasper said of her teammates. “They took control and it’s not just one player, it’s a team game.”
The Warriors closed out the half on a 14-2 run to take a 34-29 lead at the break. By then, Kasper had 25 of her team’s 34 points, including six 3s.
“It was kind of surreal,” she said. “I was just kind of getting up there and letting it fly and watching it go in. I was just like, ‘I got to get these in.’ And yeah, it was just surreal.”
And the shots from well beyond the 3-point line — well, as they say, practice makes perfect.
“I practice that with my dad at our gym,” she said. “People know that I shoot, so I have to get farther out and be a farther shooter.”
Edmonds-Woodway coach Duane Hodges said it isn’t unusual for Kasper to get a hot hand, but not quite like this.
“I haven’t seen her get quite that hot,” he said. “I know in practice sometimes, it is pretty unbelievable. We just kind of shake our heads and go, ‘OK, whatever, keep shooting.’ It was nice to see her have the confidence.”
All the more impressive was that Kasper’s performance didn’t come in garbage time or against a bad team. The Warriors needed every one of those 3-pointers to get back in, and eventually win, the game.
“Momentum — what it is, is it takes group confidence,” Hodges said. “It takes one person to be confident and it’s contagious. All of the sudden, you get multiple people confident and it’s called momentum, and that’s what she started for us by hitting those shots.”
Mountlake Terrace coach David Brophy said his team didn’t adjust to what the Warriors were doing offensively, setting screens on the perimeter for Kasper.
“What we did was we made a mistake defensively,” he said. “It was nine times that we kept going behind the screen and they hit 3’s. So that was our fault that we gave her those looks. But she was hitting 25-footers.”
The Warriors made the adjustment at halftime and held Kasper to just seven points in the second half, but the damage already had been done. By that time, the Warriors had taken control of the game and Kasper’s teammates were providing enough of the scoring to make up for her decreased second-half production.
Samantha Romanowski led the Hawks with 15 points, eight of which came early in the first quarter. Hodges said she also did a good job defensively on Kasper in the second half to slow her down.
The Warriors will try to ride the momentum of this victory into Friday night when they open up their league schedule against a Jackson team that was deemed one of the favorites in the Wesco 4A South, along with Lynnwood.
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Edmonds-Woodway H.S.
Mountlake Terrace—Nikkie Froehlich 6, Kenzie Grayson 2, Siera Prout 2, Taylor Smith 5, Samantha Romanowski 15, Riley Zucker 0, Kirsty Dale 6, Maddy Kristjanson 14. Edmonds-Woodway—Kate Wooley 5, Mady Burdett 9, Natalie Kasper 32, Maddy Nealy 0, Claire Fyfe 2, Moni Jackson 5, Seyi Olajoyegbe 8, Lea Bakken 0. 3-point goals—Smith 1, Romanowski 3, Burdett 1, Kasper 7, Jackson 1. Records—Mountlake Terrace 1-2, Edmonds-Woodway 2-1.