It’s been an interesting two weeks of prep girls basketball since the first volume of Post-Ups, my blog notebook.
I had last week off, but tried keep up with how area teams were faring over the holidays. I’ll have some tournament notes at the end of this post – along with some WesCo 4A upsets from Wednesday and a few of the games worth getting out to over the next three days.
But the focus in this edition is on two of the top 4A teams in the state – No. 1 Mount Rainier and No. 3 Inglemoor. And I’ve also checked in on White River, which is considered a contender for the 2A state title.
Before I get to those items, though, I want to share some bad news about Jackson guard Kelli Kingma, who committed to Washington as a sophomore last season. Coach Jeannie Boyer confirmed today that Kingma “probably” will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. She had surgery last week to repair a torn medial collateral ligament and isn’t expected to be cleared to even jog for another five weeks or so.
“Barring a miracle, she’ll be back for her senior season,” Boyer wrote in an e-mail – meaning it would take a miracle for Kingma to return this season.
Mount Rainier coach can’t complain
When I asked coach Bob Bolam how he felt about his 10-0 team at the midway point of the regular season, he offered some of the usual coach-speak:
“I can’t complain, we’ve won all of our games. But I think we still have room for improvement.”
Bolam looks forward to what should be the Rams’ biggest test of the season against Oregon City in the King Showcase on Monday, Jan. 21, at Showare. The Pioneers are still ranked No. 14 in the nation by USA Today (at least in the most recent poll I can find, posted on Dec. 18). That likely will change, though, as they lost to Central Catholic last week in the Nike Interstate Shootout.
The Pioneers were impressive when I saw them beat a solid Beamer squad on Dec. 20, 67-54. Then they took apart Wilson of Tacoma the next night, 84-38. Wilson is ranked No. 1 in Washington in Class 3A – although that might change when I update the top-10s next Monday.
It will be part of an interesting stretch for Mount Rainier, which will play five games in eight days. The Rams face Kentwood the Saturday before (Jan. 19). The Conquerors are in second place in the SPSL North at 5-1 and were without leading scorer Sara Toeaina (16 ppg) in the earlier 68-41 loss to MR.
The Rams have their rematch with Auburn Riverside (4-2, 6-4) on Jan. 25. MR won 70-55 the first time around, but Riverside also was not at full strength as Kendall Foster (10.9 ppg last season) only recently returned to the lineup.
I also asked Bolam what pleasant surprises he’s had with the team thus far. You might be surprised at the first one he mentioned – Brittany McPhee.
Yes, Brittany McPhee.
Sure, he knows she is a special player – she has proven that over the past two seasons and of course was Washington’s Gatorade Player of the Year for 2011-12.
“I didn’t think Brittany would be averaging almost 30 a game,” Bolam admits. “And she’s been doing it in all aspects of the game, getting steals, assists, offensive rebounds.”
The 6-foot junior not only averages 28.5 points per game, but 12.6 rebounds, 3.8 steals, 3.4 assists and 2.6 assists. Her one game under 20 points came in a 69-24 blowout of Kentridge, when she finished with 19. And McPhee is seeing plenty of gimmick defenses, too.
“She’s just playing a level above everyone else,” Bolam said.
Jordan McPhee, Brittany’s twin, is averaging 11.9 points per game (despite going scoreless against White River), along with 4.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.6 steals.
Bolam said he has been happy with the play of sophomore post Emily Fiso, who has helped fill the void left by the graduation of Kiana Gandy. The 6-foot Fiso, who came off the bench last year, is also in double-figures scoring (11.5) and contributes nearly 5½ boards a game as well.
The coach is also pleased with the development of sophomore guard Aqueelah Williams, a transfer from Cleveland who is very athletic and provides a spark off the bench.
“She’s an X-factor for us,” Bolam said.
The Rams were 27-2 last season and finished third at state, losing to Central Valley of Spokane in the semifinals on a late basket. How does this team compare?
“I feel we’re probably a better offensive team and a little more athletic,” Bolam said. “Defensively, I’m not sure we’re as good as we were last year at this point….Overall, we’re probably as good if not a little better than last year.”
Inglemoor gets ‘ready to rumble’
Coming into the season, coach John Augustavo admitted this should be his best Inglemoor team ever.
They’ve done nothing to disappoint him thus far, going 10-0.
“We’ve had some good kids come through, but this is really a talented group,” said Augustavo, in his 12th season. “I’m really lucky. And they’re young.”
The Vikings recently started two freshmen and three sophomores – but that’s because 6-foot senior Chay Fuller had seen limited action while dealing with painful kidney stones, which required a laser procedure just Wednesday morning. Having her on the court fulltime will be a plus.
“She’s a tough little defender,” Augustavo said. “She brings a whole different aspect to our game.”
So does 6-2 senior Julia Haining, who should see her first action Friday when the Vikings take on Woodinville in a key KingCo game. She has been out with an ankle injury.
“We’ll be a full strength for the first time,” Augustavo said. “They’re getting ready to rumble.”
And that should be scary for upcoming opponents.
The Vikings have been led by 6-3 sophomore Deja’ Strother, who is averaging 14.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.4 blocks. She had a monster outing in the championship game of the Les Schwab Christmas Classic, putting together 22 points, 21 rebounds and five blocks in a 78-31 romp past Auburn Riverside.
And she could just be getting started as Augustavo indicated she could be seeing more of the ball down the stretch.
The coach said he has been pleasantly surprised by freshmen MacKenzie Gardner (5-7 guard) and Kennedy Nicholas (6-3 center). He calls Gardner a “consummate point guard” who could be the best at her position in the conference – although she splits time with sophomore Jordana Price.
The biggest plus for Inglemoor might be chemistry, according to Augustavo.
“These kids really seem to be playing for each other,” he said. “There hasn’t been any drama and they’re having a good time.”
Early tests could have late benefits for White River
Knowing his White River team might not be tested much in league play this season, coach Chris Gibson put together a challenging nonleague schedule.
And he hasn’t regretted it, even though it has cost him two losses and, possibly, the No. 1 ranking in Class 2A.
“It’s been good for us,” he said. “This stretch is going to help us for the playoffs.”
Especially the back-to-back games in the Lynden Christmas Tournament against Sehome and Blaine. The Hornets beat Sehome handily, 50-29, but lost by three to Blaine, which dropped from 2A to 1A this season and is considered a playoff contender.
“They’re a good club and we didn’t play well,” Gibson said, noting it was a grudge match for Blaine after losing to White River at state last season.
White River’s other loss came against Mount Rainier on Dec. 22, 52-37 – a game that was closer than the final score indicates as the Hornets were within seven in the fourth quarter.
“They’re as good as advertised,” Gibson said.
White River gets another test Saturday at home against W.F. West of Chehalis, ranked No. 9 before the holidays.
The Hornets return three starters from the team that placed third in last year’s state tournament are led by 5-10 senior Kennedy Hobert, who averages 16.7 points and eight rebounds. They are 5-0 in SPSL 2A and Gibson said the immediate goal is to win another league championship. They have won three in a row (including SPSL 3A in 2009-10) and 12 of the past 15.
Some other holiday tournament shout-outs
I mentioned a couple of holiday tournaments earlier, but wanted to give a couple of other updates.
Woodinville won the Cactus Jam championship in Phoeniz with a 40-31 victory over Flagstaff. Senior point guard Kim Frost was voted tournament MVP and junior Sabin Keo made the all-tourney team in part by taking three charges in the title game.
The Falcons (9-2) cruised in the first two tournament games, 69-23 over Chinook (Lethbridge, Alberta) and 73-27 over Sonoma Valley (Calif.).
No. 7 Skyline (10-2) finished third in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Palo Alto, Calif., after losing a tough semifinal game to Brea-Olinda, 55-53, which went on to easily win the title.
Haley Smith landed on the all-tournament team after averaging 14 points and nine rebounds in three games.
Lynnwood, ranked No. 5 in 4A, went 3-0 in the Rebel Challenge at Juanita, which was not set up with bracket play. The Royals beat Juanita (54-42), Redmond (46-29) and Franklin (63-38).
No. 10 Snohomish won its own Christmas Invitational with a 54-48 victory over Issaquah, riding a 21-10 fourth quarter. The Panthers opened the tournament with a 38-32 win over Stanwood, ranked No. 10 in 3A, then beat Eastlake, 59-45.
Wild night in WesCo
Before I sign off, I want to make sure you caught these scores from WesCo 4A Wednesday night:
Monroe 40, Lynnwood 36
Edmonds-Woodway 51, Snohomish 38
Jackson 62, Lake Stevens 48
The Lynnwood score really took me by surprise. The Royals were 10-0 (averaging better than 60 points per game), while Monroe came in just 5-5. I e-mailed Lynnwood coach Everett Edwards, who credited Monroe’s guard play. The Royals did not get their normal share of turnovers that typically lead to transition baskets and missed all eight of their three-point tries.
Jackson and Lake Stevens were both ranked to start the season, but had since fallen out of the top-10. Lake Stevens had a nice win over Lewis and Clark of Spokane last week, but last night played without leading scorer Brooke Pahukoa, who has a dislocated pinky finger. Jackson was without Kingma, but got a huge game from sophomore Faithaleen Lopez Florez, who buried seven three-pointers en route to a game-high 29 points.
A 15-5 second quarter keyed E-W’s upset. Snohomish coach Ken Roberts told the Everett Herald that the Warriors played with more energy than his team and was superior on defense.
Catch one of these games if you can
Here are a few games over the next three days that jump out at me:
Thursday – Puyallup @ Beamer (both are unbeaten in the SPSL South)
Friday – Woodinville @ Inglemoor (two of KingCo 4A’s finest square off); Lakeside @ Holy Names (two ranked Metro teams go at it)
Saturday – W.F. West @ White River (battle between 2A ranked teams)
And be sure to check back here Monday for the updated 4A, 3A and 2A rankings. There’s certain to be lots of movement.