Centralia — Black Hills pounded the ball into the paint on three consecutive possessions early in the game, looking to open things up with a couple of high-percentage shots.
Jamika Parker, however, was there each time to swat the ball away.
Parker blocked a remarkable 15 shots, including five in the first quarter alone, to set the defensive tone as W.F. West picked up its 16th consecutive victory by defeating Black Hills, 48-39, in a 2A District IV semifinal girls basketball matchup Tuesday at Centralia High School.
“They just couldn’t get anything by her,” said W.F. West coach Henri Weeks about Parker’s low-post defense. “When you have a kid in the middle that can do what she does, it really allows us to do some things defensively with our matchup zone. The players on the perimeter can take some more chances.”
The Bearcats, who went 12-0 in 2A Evergreen Conference regular-season play, improved to 19-3 and advance to the district championship for a second consecutive season.
W.F. West, a 45-42 loser to Mark Morris in last year’s district title game, will again face the Monarchs for the district crown. The championship game will be 6 p.m. Friday at Saint Martin’s University.
By making the district finals, both teams advance to the 2A state tournament.
Black Hills (15-7) plays Centralia, a 64-61 winner over Washougal on Tuesday, in a loser-out game at 6 p.m. Saturday at Mark Morris.
Parker, a 6-foot-3 senior post, finished with 10 rebounds to go with four points.
Parker didn’t block every shot she saw, even though at times it seemed as if she did. And even when she wasn’t rejecting shots, her mere presence forced the Wolves’ players to alter their shot every time they stepped in the paint — especially during the first half.
The Bearcats rode Parker’s defensive effort and took advantage of several Black Hills turnovers en route to a 14-0 run in the first quarter.
The Wolves were held to three field goals in the first half as they fell behind, 29-10. Julie Spencer’s second 3-pointer closed out the second quarter to give W.F. West its 19-point halftime lead.
Black Hills didn’t go away quietly, however, getting 10 third-quarter points from Hope Mortensen to cut the deficit to 37-28 by quarter’s end.
Three times in the fourth the Wolves trimmed the margin to nine points, the last at 41-32 with 51/2 minutes to play, but they were unable to get any closer.
“Credit Black Hills,” Weeks said. “They made a game of it. They were able to get offensive rebounds tonight, and not too many teams have been able to do that against us this year.”
Mortensen led all scorers with 15 points, while the Bearcats got 12 points from Raegan Nelson and 11 from Spencer.