MONTICELLO — West Side was flying under the radar in the Class 3A tournament this season, reaching the championship game of the Twin Lakes Regional.
The Cougars’ valiant tournament run came to an end Saturday night against Northwestern, the No. 1 team in 3A, a multi-talented squad that is much deserving of its lofty ranking. West Side (18-8) got out to a good start, but Northwestern rolled once it got untracked.
Northwestern (27-1) rode a dominant effort in the second quarter where it put 23 points on the board and eventually ran away from West Side for a 61-23 victory. It was a real good tourney run by the Cougars.
“Nobody expected us to get this far,” West Side coach Rod Fisher said. “Somebody else was supposed to win the sectional. We came down here, and we weren’t supposed to win the first game. We weren’t supposed to give this team a competitive first half. So forget about that and be proud of what your accomplished this year.
“We’re fairly young. If they put in the time in the offseason, we might be back down here next year.”
The big second quarter propelled the Tigers to a 29-17 halftime advantage.
“Their coach (Kathie Layden) told me after the game, it didn’t make me feel any better, but I told the kids that she said that was the best half someone has played against them in two years,” Fisher said. “If we would’ve closed the half like we should’ve, we still would’ve been in the game.”
It proved to be too much of a deficit to overcome, and Northwestern won its first regional title, while denying West Side its fourth crown and first since 2005.
“Did they miss a three?” Fisher said. “If they did, they didn’t miss too many of ‘em. They can’t shoot like that all the time. Maybe it was our poor defense in the second half.”
Northwestern pulled further away in the third quarter as Madison Layden scored 11 of her game-high 18 points in the period to give the Tigers a 50-21 edge. Taylor Boruff added 16 points and Kendall Bostic added 14.
“In the morning game we could key on one player, but with this team you can’t key on one,” Fisher said. “They’ve got inside, they’ve got outside. They’ve got two real good guards. Basically, they’re a machine. They’re probably a state championship team. I don’t see anybody beating them.”
Jada Dixon closed out her career with nine points to lead the Cougars, while Dash Shaw finished with six points and four steals.
Northwestern coach Kathie Layden said she knew rebounding might be an issue in the early going. West Side led 10-6 after one quarter.
“We took some quick shots and we’re kind of one-and-done,” she said. “They made us pay for that in the first quarter. We kind of settled in a little bit and got used to their defense and their athletic ability. But obviously, when you start hitting shots, that definitely helps.
“They played us really tough, and we knew they would. We really wanted to key on Shaw. I don’t know what she ended the game with. We knew she was a high-volume scorer, and we really wanted try to shut her down.”