STORY BY CHIP CIRILLO | PHOTOS BY WHITNEY JARRELD
Ensworth’s two best players are highly touted college prospects.
Centennial’s two best players are out of the lineup.
So the outcome was likely as Ensworth rolled to a 63-21 win at Centennial on Friday night.
Guards Kaiya Wynn and Dontavia Waggoner both scored 17 points for Ensworth (15-2), the defending Division II-AA runner-up.
“They’re pretty special,” Ensworth coach Mary Taylor Cowles said. “Kaiya is a really good basketball player and I think she understands the game, and I think she just took advantage of opportunities that she had.”
Waggoner didn’t play in the first half against the outmanned Lady Cougars (5-12), but came on strong in the last two quarters. The 5-foot-11 junior was especially effective driving to the basket.
“She’s extremely athletic,” Taylor Cowles said. “She gets up off the floor quicker than anybody. She’s up, back down and on her way up again before most people have left the floor.”
Waggoner’s defensive anticipation and physicality separate her from most opponents.
“She’s just so strong and physical that when she shoots, drives or comes off the dribble, she can really take a lot of beating and people hanging on her and still make the shot or get to the rim,” Taylor Cowles said. “But I just like this team as a whole, really. We have a lot of really good young ladies.”
Ensworth’s Kamil Collier added 11 points.
Centennial senior Ashland Hardin suffered a season-ending shoulder injury earlier in the year and senior Malea Robertson left the team.
“They’re tough to replace,” Centennial coach Brad Simmons said. “We’re talking 20 points a game for Malea, 12 to 15, whatever, for Ashland. We’re playing five freshmen out of the eight varsity players.”
Hardin also averaged about nine rebounds per game as a post.
The Lady Cougars’ starting five includes three freshmen guards.
To make matters worse, senior starter Tamia Petway suffered a knee injury last week that will probably end her season.
Centennial suffered its fourth straight loss. The Lady Cougars used a two-tree zone to make it harder for the Lady Tigers to penetrate, but Waggoner and Wynn still found seams
“We both just go hard and we let the game come to us,” Waggoner said. “We played really good defense. Still got to watch back doors and face cuts, but other than that we played some pretty solid defense.”
Ensworth, ranked No. 1 in Division II-AA, set the tone early, jumping out to a 14-2 lead. By halftime its lead was 29-10 and the Lady Tigers increased it to 52-15 by the end of the third quarter.
The game was played with a running quarter for the last eight minutes. Ensworth held Centennial to less than seven points in every quarter.
“We played good defense and brought up the pressure out, but we still have a few holes to fix at practice,” said Wynn, a 6-foot sophomore.
Ensworth hosts Baylor on Friday.
Centennial hosts Summit on Monday.