YAKIMA, Wash. -- La Salle never really wants to slow down the frantic pace that has become a hallmark of one of the area’s top teams.
Still, the Lightning offense can benefit when it takes the time to look inside, particularly while many players regain their basketball form just three weeks removed from winning the Class 1A state soccer championship game. La Salle didn’t need to hit outside shots Friday night at West Valley, as it relied on its aggressive defense and a trio of forwards for a convincing 48-25 win.
“I think we have some really talented post players,” coach Alyssa Goins said. “They’ve been ready to battle, working hard, getting after it on the boards.”
Trista Hull, Grace McGree and Natalie Newman combined for 36 points, narrowly missing a trio of triple-doubles while helping the Lightning outrebound the Rams 52-26. Hull, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, led the way with 15 points and 10 rebounds, including six straight points in the second quarter to put La Salle ahead 17-4.
McGree added 13 points and nine rebounds, while Newman, a fellow senior, contributed eight points and 10 rebounds. They also made it difficult to score inside against the Lightning zone, limiting West Valley to just five two-point field goals.
Quick, energetic guards like Tatiana White, Kamryn Fiscus and Gillian Martin set the pace for the Lightning, whether bringing the ball up the court or pressuring West Valley’s guards. McGree and her fellow forwards pride themselves on being able to keep up, often scoring or grabbing rebounds on the fast break.
“We’re always in shape,” said McGree, one of the few La Salle players who didn’t compete in a fall sport. “I did a good job staying in shape and then right when we hit practice, we just do conditioning all the time. All of our drills are transition.”
It paid off late when the Lightning scored the game’s final ten points, capped off fittingly by two free throws from McGree and baskets by Hull and Newman. Goins expects her senior-laden group to get even better, and she praised them for responding well to some first-half adversity.
West Valley’s Ariel Winslow hit two 3-pointers and scored eight of her 11 points during an 11-0 run to cut the Lightning lead to 17-15. Martin’s free throw finally ended the scoring drought and sparked a streak of five straight points heading into halftime.
La Salle lost just one player from the group that took third place at the SunDome in March, so McGree said that familiarity has made things easier. Everyone knows where to be in the Lightning’s relentless fullcourt zone defense, which forced 23 West Valley turnovers, including eight in the first quarter.
“The seniors definitely have a role, kind of leading the team, bringing the energy, talking a lot,” McGree said. “But I think the whole team does a good job of keeping everybody accountable.”
Rams coach Tyson Whitfield said before the game La Salle’s pressure would be good preparation for the West Valley’s CBBN opener Saturday at Sunnyside. The Lightning will look to remain unbeaten with another nonleague road trip to Chelan.
LA SALLE — Trista Hull 15, Grace McGree 13, Newman 8, Tatiana White 3, Kam Fiscus 0, Stohr 4, Ashby 2, Martin 3, Desmarais 0, Lancaster 0, Klebaum 0, Remillard 0. 18-54 12-20 48.
WEST VALLEY — Ariel Winslow 11, Burns 4, Landis 2, Fetzer 3, Curtis 3, Loveless 0, Brennan 2, Roberts 0, Allen 0, Sears 0. 9-44 3-7 25.
La Salle 11 11 14 12 — 48
West Valley 4 11 8 2 — 25
3-point goals: La Salle 0-8, West Valley 4-15 (Winslow 3-7, Fetzer 1-1). Rebounds: La Salle 52 (Newman 12, Hull 10, McGree 9), West Valley 26 (Burns 5, Landis 5, Loveless 5). Steals: La Salle 15, West Valley 10. Turnovers: La Salle 18, West Valley 23. Fouls: La Salle 11, West Valley 16. Fouled out—None.