YELM — Yelm girls basketball coach Russ Riches knew there were a handful of things his team needed to do in order to knock off Narrows League 3A leader Bellarmine Prep.
Tops on the list was outrebounding the larger, longer Lions.
Undersized, but hardly undeterred, the Tornados did just that.
Leading the charge was 5-foot-5 senior guard McKenzie DeVore, who grabbed nine rebounds to go with a game-high 15 points and seven steals as Yelm handed visiting Bellarmine its first league loss, 48-42, on Wednesday.
“Huge win for us,” said Riches. “We told them before the game the only way we have a chance to beat Bellarmine is by owning the boards and I thought we did that tonight.”
Yelm (10-3 overall, 4-2 Narrows 3A), which never trailed in the contest, notched its third consecutive victory.
Bellarmine (7-6, 6-1) had a three-game winning streak snapped.
“The girls really played with some intensity tonight and we needed that,” Riches said. “We needed this win to get back into the hunt for the league title.”
Karli Shaw added 13 points for the Tornados, who sorely needed the scoring efforts from DeVore and Shaw because leading scorer Anuska Maldonado’s playing time was limited because of early foul trouble.
Maldonado, who had posted back-to-back 20-point games in her previous two starts, picked up her fourth foul midway through the fourth quarter, but returned to play the final 3 minutes.
The 6-2 senior post made the most of the game’s final moments, hitting a field goal, grabbing two offensive rebounds and assisting on McKaiela Tyler’s 3-pointer, which pushed Yelm’s lead to 46-36 with 32 seconds remaining in the game.
“That was a big shot for us,” Riches said. “It certainly gave us some breathing room.”
The Lions trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half, but trimmed their deficit to 39-36 when Sydney Swofford made a 3-pointer with 6 minutes to play.
The Tornados answered with a 7-0 run.
DeVore seemed to be everywhere in the first half, scoring all of her 15 points in the first half and adding five steals and four rebounds to help the Tornados to a 29-23 lead at the intermission.
Bellarmine used a first-half defensive adjustment, switching to a 2-3 zone, to slow down Yelm’s offense.
The Lions then used a slew of offensive rebounds and their transition game to creep back into the contest by ending the first half on a 10-3 run.
Jayana Ervin paced the Lions with 12 points, while Swofford scored 10.