There’s nothing quite like playing in your home gym.
From the home crowd to the familiar announcer, there’s just “a sense of normalcy.”
That’s how Mark Morris senior post Alexis Troy described it after her team, with 10 seniors dotting the roster, played for the final time in Ted M. Natt Court. And that familiar announcer?
Well the Monarchs enjoyed hearing Dave Andrew’s voice echo the final score of the Southwest 2A District girls’ basketball opener through the speakers on Friday night:
Mark Morris 59, Centralia 41.
“We have our crowd. We have our parents. We have Dave,” Troy said. “It’s that sense of normalcy that helps us get in our routine.”
Alexis Troy finished with a team-high 17 points, two other Monarchs scored in double figures and a quick start coupled with a superior passing game ensured Mark Morris would get that rematch with state favorite W.F. West. That contest is slated for 7:45 p.m. Monday at R.A. Long.
And let’s just say there’s history between the two. The teams met in three straight state title games from 2013-2015, and are common Southwest District foes. Earlier this season, the Bearcats gouged MM for a 94-35 win.
“Out of mind, out of sight,” Troy said. “It’s a completely new team, and I think we’re ready.”
But these are not the same Monarchs of December. Libby Bartleson, who tallied 13 points Friday, is fully healthy and something has clicked after starting the year 3-3.
Madison Mosier continues to kickstart the offense — she hit two 3-pointers to open Friday’s affair on her way to 11. And Kalina Makaiwi infuriates offenses with her relentless defense to the point that Centralia rarely put a ballhandler in front of her.
“Offensively, we’re really confident,” MM coach Sean Atkins said. “Offensively, we’re making all the right plays. We’re not guessing anymore.”
Upsets happen come playoff time, as No. 5 Columbia River’s win over No. 1 Washougal on Friday night showed, and after making sure they didn’t fall victim, the Monarchs are looking to create one.
W.F. West is 19-2 and has had just one opponent come within 20 points since Jan. 10. They topped Woodland 88-35 on Friday night in first-round play.
“What do we have to lose?” Atkins said. “They’re the state-title favorite. We can go out there, play as hard as we can, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to bring it.”