CASHMERE — It just wasn’t Cashmere's night Thursday as the Bulldogs dropped their first game of the season in a 63-36 blowout loss to Warden at home.
Cashmere (5-1) was out of sync from the opening tip, falling behind 14-0 in the first four minutes.
“You could tell, and not to make any excuses because I don’t think the girls were ready to play tonight, but there were a lot of distractions with graduation tomorrow night,” Cashmere head coach Brent Darnell said. “But Warden also came out and played physical and they gave it to us.”
Warden outrebounded Cashmere 33-11 and the Bulldogs committed 26 turnovers offensively.
“It’s pretty tough to win with those numbers,” Darnell said.
The Bulldogs didn’t get their first basket until the five-minute mark and scored just three points in the quarter against the Cougars' relentless on-ball defense. Cashmere was able to get its offense going though in the second quarter; junior Riley Johnson had a few nice assists and sophomore Maddie Hammond banked in a few shots inside to cut the Cougars' lead to 15 at halftime.
But Warden stretched its lead back to 20 in the third quarter and held on the rest of the game. The Cougars dominated the glass, grabbing two or three offensive boards on nearly every trip down the floor. Kiana Rios led the team with 18 points and grabbed six rebounds. Jaryn Madsen finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Rylee McKay chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds.
Cashmere was led by Hammond, who finished with 10 points and four rebounds. Johnson added eight points and Peyton Brown finished with five points. Brown, a graduating senior, went down with an injury in the second half.
Darnell said it was the worst thing that happened Thursday night.
“I’ve never seen a kid have more ability and maximize everything she does,” he said. “She’s a fierce competitor, a great teammate and a great kid; it’s sad to see that happen to her with such a short season. I was telling her, these things always happen to the great ones — the kids that always ... give it everything they have. We’ll be talking about her effort and the way she played for years to come.”
Some good things happened for Cashmere though, Darnell said. Hammond led the team in scoring and sophomore Kaitlyn Bjorklund gave the Bulldogs some quality minutes in the fourth quarter.
“I really like her, she’s got a little nastiness to her,” Darnell said about Bjorklund. “She’s not afraid of anything or anyone. I also thought Jalynn (Darnell) came in tonight and was aggressive taking the ball to the basket. We knew this game was going to be tough and I told the girls before the game, no matter what happens this game will make us better, and it did. That was one of the better teams we have played in the last few years.”
Cashmere will get the weekend to enjoy graduation before returning for a four-game grind next week. The Bulldogs open with Quincy on Monday before taking on Cascade in Leavenworth on Tuesday. Cashmere’s next home game is Thursday against Omak. Tipoff for all three games is 6 p.m.