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Prep girls hoops: A star strikes the Wildcats

Highland’s Kelsick scores 42 points in WR loss

Posted: February 16, 2013 10:25 p.m.
Updated: February 16, 2013 10:25 p.m.

PALMDALE – Everyone in the gym knew who the West Ranch Wildcats girls basketball team needed to stop.
West Ranch could only hold off the floodgates for so long.

Highland Bulldogs junior Ashley Kelsick rattled off 42 points and added nine rebounds to help Highland of Palmdale knock off West Ranch 54-45 on Saturday night at Highland High School in the CIF-Southern Section Division IAA first round.

“She’s just a good player overall,” said West Ranch senior Hannah Green of Kelsick. “I think defensively, we didn’t have enough help.”

Coming into the game, Kelsick, a 5-foot-7-inch point guard, averaged 40.7 points per game, which leads the nation, according to

At first, it appeared the Wildcats (13-12) had the speedy guard figured out, limiting her to just seven points until late in the second quarter.

Green played well on defense during that period. She ended up with five blocked shots in the game.

That allowed West Ranch to take a 19-15 lead with 2:30 left in the first half thanks to a 12-0 run that began in the first quarter.

Whitney Branham scored 22 points to lead the Wildcats and she added nine rebounds, but West Ranch struggled most of the game to find consistent scoring against the Golden League champion Bulldogs (21-2).

“We had good looks,” said West Ranch head coach Randy Smith. “But I think overall they (played man-to-man) on us the whole game and we just didn’t execute our man offense.”

West Ranch made 24 percent of its shots.

Meanwhile, Kelsick seemed to heat up more as the game wore on. She scored all 10 of Highland’s points in the second quarter to give her team a 25-23 lead at halftime.

After that, she continued to pick apart the Wildcats, scoring 13 points during the Bulldogs’ 16-2 run to close the third quarter.

Highland held a 43-29 advantage with one quarter to play.

“I tried to do all this funny, razzle dazzle stuff (early in the game),” said Kelsick, who shot 15-of-30, including just one 3-pointer. “I just had to be strong with the ball and get to the basket.”

Only two other Highland players scored in the game.

For the Wildcats, Melanie Jensen added eight points on 4-of-5 shooting.

West Ranch made a minor comeback attempt in the fourth quarter as Jensen made a jumper late to cut Highland’s lead to 49-43.

But Kelsick was able to ice it away by getting to the free-throw line on what Smith called “some bizarre officiating.”

West Ranch may not have gotten to this point were it not for a win against Saugus late in the season to earn a third-place tie in the Foothill League, which eventually led to an automatic playoff bid.

“It was definitely worth the fight,” Green said.



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