DALLAS – Kendra Saba did what was expected of her and a bit more.
As a result, the Dallas girls easily made it into the District 2 Class AAA quarterfinals.
Saba handled a key defensive role and mixed it up with bigger players to be the game’s leading rebounder when Dallas handled visiting Lake-Lehman, 45-26, Wednesday night to emerge as the only Back Mountain team to get through the first round of the district basketball playoffs.
After Julia Eneboe scored five points in the first 2:22 to get Lake-Lehman off to an 8-2 start in its attempt to pull off a playoff upset, Saba was responsible for slowing down the Black Knights leader.
“We made a few little adjustments in assignments,” Dallas coach Kelly Johnson said. “We knew we needed to stop Eneboe’s drive and penetration. Kendra Saba is one of our best defenders and she usually gets assigned to the other team’s top guard.
“She did a nice job containing. That was really the goal, to contain penetration, but still not give (Eneboe) open looks because she has long-range shooting. That was a concern of ours.”
With the Lake-Lehman offense slowed down, Dallas dominated.
The Mountaineers came out of their sluggish start to outscore Lake-Lehman, 41-8, over the next 23 ½ minutes, taking a 43-16 lead after scoring the last six points of the third quarter and the first seven of the fourth quarter.
Saba did not stop at providing defense.
The 5-6 sophomore guard was the game’s leading rebounder with 10, helping Dallas to a 43-36 advantage on the boards.
“Kendra’s a spitfire,” Johnson said. “She doesn’t back down whether she’s going up for a ball with somebody who’s a foot taller than her or not, she has that kind of fire.
“I’m very proud of her, but we know she’s capable of going after it like that. She can be an offensive player’s worse nightmare at times.”
Saba was also part of a balanced offensive effort with five points, a total matched or exceeded by five of her teammates.
Nikki Wren led the way with 11 points, nine rebounds and three assists as Dallas, the sixth seed in the 16-team tournament, improved to 17-6. Maddie Kelley added 10 points.
Hannah Johnson came off the bench to provide six points and two steals.
Eneboe led Lake-Lehman with nine points. Madison Borum had nine rebounds and Corina Scoblick made three steals.
The Black Knights, the 11th seed, finished the season 5-17.
Dallas, which advanced into a Friday quarterfinal against third-seeded Wyoming Area, held Lake-Lehman to 20 percent shooting (9-for-45) while forcing 23 turnovers.
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