EVERETT — How does Archbishop Murphy senior Emily Rodabaugh celebrate her birthday?
The Wildcats guard, who turned 18 on Tuesday, kicked off the festivities with a birthday dinner on Monday with family and friends at the Cheesecake Factory and on Tuesday night, she’ll finish studying for her AP language/composition and anatomy final exams on Wednesday.
But the most significant gift was in the form of free throws, as Rodabaugh went 16-of-16 from the foul line en route to a 25-point performance, powering Archbishop Murphy over visiting Shorecrest, 64-54 in a Wesco 3A/2A matchup.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had to shoot 16 free throws in a game, much less make 16-for-16,” Rodabaugh said. “It was weird for me to be at the line that much. Usually I don’t get calls; I don’t know why I got calls tonight, but I’m not going to complain about it.”
Rodabaugh took over the second quarter, getting to the line and sinking a pair of three throws twice and sinking a 3-pointer with three seconds remaining in the period to provide the Wildcats a 30-13 lead at halftime.
The Northern Arizona commit was a difference-maker on both ends for the Wildcats on Tuesday, with enough size to match up with some of Shorecrest’s post players and enough speed and skill to prove a difficult matchup on offense.
“She’s invaluable,” Murphy head coach Cassie Snyder said. “She can defend, her length is huge for us, she can bring the ball up, she can run our offense, and obviously she can score. She really does it all. She’s grown so much from her freshman year when she was so focused on offense, she’s a great defender now.”
The Wildcats started the game on a 19-4 run, sparked by a pair of 3s from freshman guard Taylor Campbell.
“Taylor Campbell was huge for us tonight,” Rodabaugh said. “We’ve been begging her to shoot the ball all season.”
Leading 44-29 entering the fourth quarter, the Wildcats ripped off a 12-2 run to assemble a 56-32 lead with about four minutes remaining. Snyder then pulled her starters and the Scots finished the game on a 22-8 run to cut the lead all the way to 10.
Snyder left her bench in in order for the Wildcats’ secondary scorers to gain some late-game seasoning.
“(The bench) did a great job and they’ve done a good job,” Snyder said. “We need to get minutes for our bench down the line, because experience is a huge thing. As much as I wanted to put some people back in, they needed that and they needed to learn from that and that’s how they learn is when they’re playing.
“As a whole, if I just left our starters in, we don’t get better. You’ve seen basketball, people get in foul trouble and you have to use your bench. Our kids are capable, they didn’t show it tonight, but they’re capable of coming in and finishing games better.”
Campbell and Kiani Yesiki each chipped in 10 for the Wildcats.
Sydney VanNess led the Scots with 24 points.
The refs upheld a tight whistle and the Wildcats capitalized on it, sinking 29 of 31 free throws.
The Scots on the other end, failed to discover their offensive groove until it was too late.
“Not to complain about the referees or anything, but we could not get in a rhythm due to fouls,” Shorecrest head coach Carlos Humphrey said. “It was a tight whistle. … But we could not get in a rhythm tonight for whatever reason.”
Archbishop Murphy (15-1, 9-1 Wesco 3A/2A) is now tied with Snohomish atop the league standings after topping the Scots (14-2, 8-2). The Panthers edged the Wildcats 54-46 on Jan. 8, the two team’s only regular-season meeting.
The Wildcats are thrilled to be at the top of the Wesco standings in their first year in the conference since the Cascade Conference disbanded.
“We’re definitely not the most liked school when it comes to athletics,” Rodabaugh said, “so there’s always a little chip on our shoulder. We have to show people what we’re about. We’re really big on making sure sportsmanship-wise we go above and beyond and let people know we’re here to play a clean game, we’re here to play fair, but we’re here to win. I think this is also really big, too, to just establish what we’re about.”
— Archbishop Murphy visits Shorewood on Thursday.
— Shorecrest takes on Meadowdale on Thursday on the road.