TACOMA — The Glacier Peak girls basketball team has held an interior advantage over most opponents this season with senior standout Kayla Watkins, a 6-foot-1 Weber State signee.
But in the Grizzlies’ 60-46 loss to Kentridge in Saturday night’s 4A state title game, the Chargers’ stellar interior duo of JaQuaya Miller and Jordyn Jenkins had their way.
Miller and Jenkins — both underclassmen — combined for 44 points and 29 rebounds while helping Kentridge to a 55-32 advantage on the boards.
Miller, a 6-foot-4 sophomore post and the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, recorded 27 points and 17 rebounds. She reached a double-double by halftime with 17 points and 12 rebounds in the first half, including eight straight points in the first quarter during an 11-0 Chargers run.
Jenkins, a 6-foot-1 freshman post, added 17 points and 12 rebounds off the bench for Kentridge.
“We were having a hard time rebounding,” Glacier Peak coach Brian Hill said. “(JaQuaya and Jordyn) were beasts on the boards. They had more offensive rebounds than we had total rebounds at halftime. So we had to make an adjustment, and that was to try to take them out of it.”
The Grizzlies switched to a zone defense, hoping that packing defenders inside would slow down Kentridge’s dynamic duo.
The adjustment initially proved effective. Glacier Peak held Kentridge scoreless for nearly four minutes to begin the second half, which allowed the Grizzlies to build a 34-28 lead.
But Miller willed the Chargers back with six straight points, tying the game at 34 late in the third quarter.
“She’s really good,” said Watkins, who finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds for Glacier Peak. “She was a good challenge for us. When we needed to step up, I thought we stepped up. But they just outrebounded us, and I thought they outplayed us.”
While its interior success paved the way, Kentridge knocked down outside shots at pivotal junctures down the stretch to help swing the game.
Until late in the third quarter, the Chargers had made just one 3-pointer and were doing most of their damage inside. But that changed in the game’s final nine minutes, when Kentridge drained three 3-pointers during a 23-6 run that pushed the Chargers’ lead to 57-41 and squashed Glacier Peak’s title dreams.
“The zone is designated to make them beat you from outside and force your shooters to shoot,” Hill said. “… We dared them to hit shots, and they hit shots.”
Kentridge’s late-game shooting success began with a go-ahead, buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Daylani Ballena that gave the Chargers a 37-35 edge heading into the final period.
Then midway through the fourth, Jenkins hit a jumper and McCarver sunk another 3-pointer to extend a three-point Kentridge lead into a 46-38 margin that Glacier Peak couldn’t make up.
“They ended up just beating us on the outside,” Hill said. “They hit a couple of 3s, and we didn’t think they would. We were hoping they might get one, and they got (several). And they were big ones.”