The fifth-ranked Falcons held off the No. 4 Chargers in a battle of unbeaten teams in the North Puget Sound League.
Gabby Bruno stepping back for a three-pointer isn’t a surprise.
Her doing it from the WNBA line in a Kentlake jersey?
“I lose myself in this game,” she said of the deep three-pointer with 5:22 remaining against Kentridge. The shot regained the Falcons’ lead en route to a 52-45 North Puget Sound League win on their home court Friday.
Bruno, a 5-foot-10 guard, found herself moving with her family from Lake Oswego, Ore., to Kent last summer. Kentlake coach GC Hillburn heard about the senior the first day of school.
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The Falcons, ranked No. 5 in The Seattle Times’ poll, lost guard Sydney Peterson, the reigning league MVP, and veteran starters Emma Jackson and Kylee Johnson to injuries. Bruno was able to start and be a key piece to Kentlake’s offense.
“She’s gone out of her way to really assimilate and become part of what we have here,” Hillburn said. “We told her from Day 1 that we’re a team-first program and the thing that’s been great about her is that she’s really adopted that mentality. We haven’t missed a beat even though she’s new.”
Kentlake led 25-20 at halftime behind nine points from freshman reserve Kiernen Denckla.
Kentridge, which is ranked No. 4, increased its defensive intensity to cool Kentlake’s shooting. Sophomore post JaQuaya Miller (18 points, 10 rebounds) had back-to-back plays under the hoop to inch the Chargers within 33-32 at the end of the third quarter.
The visitors took their first lead of the game (35-33) on a shot off the glass by senior guard Tresai McCarver. Then Bruno lost herself in Kentlake’s offensive flow.
“I knew (Gabby) could shoot, but she was pulling from really deep,” said Kentridge freshman post Jordyn Jenkins, who finished with nine points. “We need to look out for her the next time we play them.”
Beginning with the three-pointer, Bruno scored 12 of Kentlake’s ensuing 15 points to build a 48-43 lead with 1:14 left in the game. The biggest cheer was the charge Bruno took when McCarver tried to regain momentum with a driving layin.
Bruno also had a steal and Kentlake made four free throws in the waning seconds to preserve the win.
“I get pretty excited when kids take charges because that was kind of the only thing I could do when I played high-school basketball,” Hillburn joked. “I feel like I teach that well. A charge in the fourth quarter is a big play. It’s a very selfless play that means a lot to everybody on the team. I’m so proud she made that play. When we’re in the locker room, that’s what we’re talking about.”
Bruno finished with 18 points and seven rebounds. Her effort put Kentlake (8-0, 5-0 NPSL) alone atop the league standings. It was also Kentridge’s (6-1, 3-1) first loss of the season after impressive wins against Bellarmine Prep and Auburn Riverside.
“We knew this was going to be a hard game,” Bruno said. “We had to play together and I waited for my opportunities. It was a good game all around.”