BASKETBALL: West Seattle High School girls win 1st district playoff game

(West Seattle’s top scorer today, #11 Jasmine Gayles, with an end-of-first-half basket)

FIRST REPORT, 4:28 PM: Just concluded at West Seattle High School, the girls’ first game in district basketball playoffs, and it was a victory – 67-55 over Mercer Island. Photos and details later. The Wildcat girls now advance to the next round, with a game at 3:30 pm Tuesday (February 13th) at Sammamish High School (100 140th Ave SE in Bellevue), against Seattle Prep.

ADDED 10:03 PM: Head coach Darnell Taylor and his team had a lot of strategizing to do to keep this one in the W corner. Twice, they pulled out to a sizable lead, only to have the Islanders recover.

First time was fairly early on – the Wildcats were ahead 11-2 by midway through the first quarter, but that lead was down to three points as the second quarter began, 15-12. In the second quarter, Mercer Island fought to a 20-17 lead after two 3-pointers, with 5 minutes to go until halftime. But the Westsiders didn’t give up, and after baskets by #20 Grace Sarver (12 points) and #11 Jasmine Gayles, (17 points) they had the lead back, 21-20. They kept building on that and were out to a 31-22 lead at halftime.

The Wildcats dominated the early minutes of the second half, expanding their lead to 16 points before Mercer Island started their second comeback attempt – with 11 unanswered points before the end of the third quarter. West Seattle was still ahead – 43-38 – but the Islanders were within striking distance.

#4 Kelsey Lenzie ended the scoring drought with a basket at 7:15 to go, on an assist from Sarver. The two repeated the feat less than half a minute later, and the Wildcats had a little breathing room, 47-38. #1 Kaiya Mar added a three-pointer at 5:26, and WSHS had momentum.

By 3:40, they’d opened up to 56-42 after #32 Meghan Fiso (6 points) got a three on an assist from #21 Julianna Horne (11 points).

At 2:30, the margin was 19 points and victory was looking certain; Mercer Island made up a little of that ground but not enough, and the final score was 67-55. As mentioned above, Seattle Prep is next for the WSHS girls, four weeks after they beat the Panthers by six points.

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