Girls state basketball: Kentwood eliminated by Bellarmine Prep

Third time’s a charm? The old adage didn’t add up for the Kentwood High girls basketball team Friday afternoon. The defending state champion Conquerors ran out of steam at the Tacoma Dome, falling for the third time this season to Bellarmine Prep 63-49 in loser-out Class 4A state tournament consolation game.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Saturday, March 6, 2010 2:22am
  • Sports

Third time’s a charm?

The old adage didn’t add up for the Kentwood High girls basketball team Friday afternoon. The defending state champion Conquerors ran out of steam at the Tacoma Dome, falling for the third time this season to Bellarmine Prep 63-49 in loser-out Class 4A state tournament consolation game.

“We just haven’t been able to put together a full game against them,” said Kentwood’s Liz Mills, who finished with a team-high 18 points.

The Conquerors (23-7) weren’t able to put together a full game against the Lions again on Friday, partially because star point guard Kylie Huerta was battling a sore left knee suffered during a hard fall the day before against Mead. The lightning-quick Huerta was a half step slower than usual against the Lions and finished with a season-low 3 points on 1-of-14 shooting.

“It was hurting me the whole game,” said Huerta, who scored 22 points in the state opener and 26 in a quarterfinal loss to Mead. “I didn’t run at school at all. Then I tried to run and (my knee) hurt bad. I tried to play through it.”

Without Huerta at full speed, Kentwood simply couldn’t get in a rhythm.

“She played through it for a half and then it just caught up to her,” said Kentwood coach Dean Montzingo. “Kylie’s our floor general and she just wasn’t 100 percent.”

Huerta was able to deliver nearly 27 minutes in the game, but was forced to the bench twice in the second half for the first time in the tournament.

“That definitely takes your momentum away when your point guard can’t drive and dish like she normally can,” Mills noted.

The loss put an end to Kentwood’s fourth state trip in as many years. The Conquerors opened the tournament on Wednesday with a win over Newport, then were eliminated after a loss Thursday to Mead followed by another defeat on Friday against Bellarmine Prep.

Despite Thursday’s heartbreaking 74-71 loss to Mead, a game in which the Conks led by 10 points with five minutes to play, Kentwood came out with more energy than Bellarmine Prep (20-8). For the third straight game, Mills gave the Conquerors an instant jolt of offense in the first quarter, scoring 9 of her 18 points. Sanda Milovic, Kentwood’s lone senior, added six points in the period, helping the Conquerors take a 19-11 lead.

Milovic finished with 16 points, her best output of the tournament. Meanwhile, Courtney Johnson proved to be a force in the paint, collecting 13 rebounds and adding eight points.

Kentwood’s first-quarter lead evaporated within three minutes of the second quarter, however, when Bellarmine Prep pushed ahead 24-22 on a 3-pointer from Mechela Barnes.

The Conquerors managed to go into halftime with a 29-28 lead after a bucket in traffic from Mills. Kentwood pushed its lead to 33-28 moments into the third quarter on a short hook shot in the lane from Milovic. The Lions, however, finished the quarter on a 16-7 run to take command of the game.

The loss was tough to swallow, especially for Milovic, who was playing in her final game as a Conqueror.

“We obviously wanted to go further than this,” she said. “But I think this season we proved a lot. We proved a lot of people wrong.”

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