Stockton girls basketball coach Alexa Rogers knew Coldwater-South Central’s Bri Rutherford was going to be tough contain, and the junior guard was as good as advertised.
But the Timberwolves proved they’re not a one-player show, utilizing several weapons during an 82-42 quarterfinal victory over Stockton in the Class 1A Division I State Tournament on Thursday in Gross Memorial Coliseum.
Rutherford, who came in averaging 21 points per game, put up a game-high 24 while Rylee Alexander added 21 for 24-0 South Central. They were joined in double figures by Taylor Bayne (13) and Jordyn Jellison (10).
“Our game plan was just to try and contain their guard (Rutherford),” Stockton coach Alexa Rogers said. “She’s a good ball handler and she’s got a good jump shot. We were trying to contain her and we lost track of some of their other shooters.
“When they’re hitting 3s and not missing free throws and we can’t hit, that’s the difference in a game like that. Definitely nothing to hold our heads about. We knew we were coming up against a good team. They’re 24-0 for a reason.”
Stockton (17-7) stayed within striking distance of South Central early, trailing 20-14 at the end of the first quarter and cutting the lead to 22-20 two minutes into the second quarter. The Timberwolves then closed the half on a 20-7 run to grab a 42-27 halftime lead and never looked back.
South Central held an enormous 48-15 edge on the board including 21 offensive rebounds.
“We knew that was going to be a challenge,” Rogers said. “At halftime they had 11 offensive rebounds and we only had 11 total rebounds. It’s something that we’ve struggled with all year long with rebounding. When you get to this point and you can’t rebound, you’re going to suffer from it and we definitely did.”
Shae Griffin led Stockton with 14 points and Haven Hamilton added 13.
The Tigers were making back-to-back trips to the state tournament after qualifying last year for the first time since 1999.
It was the final game for five Tiger seniors — Hamilton, Madalyn Billinger, Delayne Colburn, Chloe Scott and Shayanne Wente.
“Going through a drought of almost 20 years and coming back meant a lot for the program and for us as a community,” Rogers said. “Just with the young girls seeing this group go to state two years in a row, hopefully we can build some of those younger kids and continue to build a program.
“Our seniors were huge all season long and they were huge for their whole careers.”