DALLAS — The Central High School girls basketball team is going to the playoffs, with a third spot in the Mid-Willamette Conference league.
“Nobody thought we were going to be here,” said senior Meagan Mendazona. “Nobody thought we were going to be tough and competitive.”
“It feels amazing,” junior Kennedy Kantola chimed in.
To top off the excitement of going to the playoffs, the Panthers (14-10 overall, 11-5 Mid-Willamette Conference) capped their regular season Monday by claiming a 55-24 victory in the cross-county rivalry rematch at Dallas High School.
“I think the game went pretty well,” Kantola said. “We really pushed hard after the half. We started out a little rocky, like in the last game we played against them, but after we got the lead we pushed, and it was fun.”
Only leading by three in the first quarter, the Panthers refocused, and by halftime, the team was up 24-12, leaving the Dragons (5-19, 2-14 MWC) no chance to close the gap.
Friday is the first of the multiple playoff games. The information on who the Panthers play in the first round will be released Wednesday.
It has been an up-and-down journey this year, especially the start of the second half of the season, when the team opened with three losses in a row.
“Well we had a key injury, so Meagan (Mendazona) got hurt at practice, and so she missed two games,” said head coach Marc Burlson. “Even though we preach all year long that this is a team thing — we’re a team, we’re not one player — just her leadership on the floor is very valuable.
The team was able to bounce back after a 49-39 victory at North Salem.
“So, that was it, a lot of it was just some confidence things, and a mid-season slump,” Burlson said. “Which happens to good teams, and luckily we got through that, and we had two huge games against Lebanon and Corvallis, which sparked us as we go into playoffs.”