WOODS CROSS The Woods Cross Wildcats completely determined the pace of the game and used a dominating second quarter to grab the 54-40 win over the West Panthers at home Friday night.
Every time the Panthers changed their strategy on offense or defense, the Wildcats adjusted right away to continue controlling the game.
"This game was by far our best game of the year," Woods Cross coach Mitch Smith said. "We just came out and played great on offense and defense. West is a really good team and well-coached, so it was a good one to get."
The win takes the 4A Wildcats to a 7-3 record, including wins over six 5A teams. The way the Wildcats have been consistently playing, Smith expects them to be in the mix for the region title and during state.
"Our expectation is always to win state," Smith said. "You have to go out there expecting to win every game."
Woods Cross outscored West 18-9 in the second quarter to expand on a three-point lead after the first quarter and take a 32-20 lead into half. The Panthers could never quite recover from the quarter, despite playing a more balanced game in the second half.
Krystal Mascarenas drained two 3-pointers to help the Panthers outscore the Wildcats in the third. Woods Cross leading scorer and rebounder Jami Mokofisi drew her third foul in the first 30 seconds of the half to give the Panthers a bit of hope, but the Wildcats bench came in to play assertively.
"Our back-up posts were amazing tonight. We go four or five deep and they all came to play," Smith said. "Elaine Petersen and Lacy Veale came in and played hard and we only expanded the lead."
Although the Panthers came out playing defense much more aggressively in the fourth, the Wildcats reacted by adjusting with a more active offense, which early in the quarter gave the Wildcats their biggest lead of the game at 16 points. Mascarenas continued to keep the Panthers in range, however, hitting a variety of big shots whenever the game seemed on the verge of turning into a blowout.
"We've played teams that are aggressive and strong and we prefer that because we can penetrate and drive," Smith said. "I'm proud of how they adjusted in the fourth."
"I think we reacted well when they changed up on defense tonight," Brittnee Smith said. "We also were fast when we were on defense, making it hard for them to pass."
Smith, the senior point guard, controlled the tempo for Woods Cross, dishing out six assists and contributing six points, while Mokofisi and McKell Leavitt each had 12 points. Mokofisi also added 12 rebounds, while promising freshman Xojian Harry grabbed nine boards.Mascarenas had a game-high 17 points for West, including five 3-pointers.