The West Albany High girls basketball team proved to be the class of the Mid-Willamette Conference this season.
Corvallis did little to change that in the final regular-season meeting between the two schools on Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs, who already claimed the conference title, dominated second-place Corvallis 56-36 in Spartan Gym. They jumped out to an early lead and kept the pressure on throughout the game.
“The big thing was we didn’t come to play from the beginning, and that showed the rest of the game,” senior Jaclyn Zalesky said. “Starting strong is something we are trying to do, and we didn’t tonight. This is something we don’t usually do. It was just an off night, I guess.”
Corvallis (15-7, 9-4) did have a rough night shooting. Leslie Robinson led the Spartans’ scoring with 12 points, but didn’t hit the first of her two field goals until late in the game.
“Our outside shooters need to step up and shoot the ball so Leslie is not double teamed all the time,” CHS coach Jamie Medley said. “
Part of her troubles was a physical battle inside, particularly with Ashton Siegner.
“I thought Ashton Siegner, defense and offense, being matched up with Robinson did a heck of a job,” West Albany coach Mike Haberly said. “She stepped up her game tonight.”
Brooklyn Coe, who carried the load for the Spartans, scored 10 points, and only three others scored. Shots were contested and missed.
The Bulldogs (22-0, 13-0), however, hit shots from all areas of the floor. Corey James and Ali Nelke scored 14 points each, while Siegner added 11 and Lauren Conser had 10.
West Albany hit three of its four 3-pointers early in the game to give the players momentum and confidence. That was a change from when these two teams met earlier.
Corvallis lost that game by three points. The Bulldogs were also 0 for 8 from 3-point range.
“The biggest difference from the first time we played was we didn’t get any perimeter shots,” Haberly said. “Tonight, we hit three or four 3s. That gets us in a rhythm. In the first game we didn’t hit any 3s.”
From there the Bulldogs were aggressive to the basket. Sometimes it was an open drive through the lane for a layup, but it was frequently someone cutting to the basket to an open spot to receive the pass and score.
“I really thought tonight my kids did a great job recognizing where we had some mismatches when we had the ball in terms of who was guarding us,” Haberly said. “We have a few different offensive schemes, and I thought Corey James at point guard did a good job recognizing where to get the ball. In the first half they tried to make adjustments, but when they made adjustments we put the ball in someone else’s hands and took advantage of that.”
Both teams have their rivalry games Friday to conclude the regular season, and fine-tune anything before the state playoffs.
For Corvallis, that’s a little more than West Albany.
“Hopefully this loss, and the one we just had to Silverton, will push us to finish strong and push on to playoffs,” Zalesky said.
West Albany 56, Corvallis 36
WEST ALBANY 18 13 21 4 — 56
CORVALLIS 6 6 14 10 — 36
West Albany: James 14, Nelke 14, Siegner 11, Conser 10, Duvall 5, Cale 2, Kimura, Wetmore
Corvallis: Robinson 12, Coe 10, McGowan 7, Bartholomew 4, Creswick 3, Zalesky, Gourley