I’m trying to spread the love in my weekly girls basketball blog, highlighting a few different teams in each edition.
The first thing I want to do is give a HUGE shout-out to the Sammamish Totems, who beat Interlake Wednesday night, 46-41 in overtime. I’ve been told it was their first league victory since January of 2005 (also against Interlake), snapping a 110-game league losing streak!
I’ve got a call (and e-mail) in to coach Loren Tillman and hope to have a separate post later today on the victory.
But primarily this week, Post-Ups focuses on Arlington’s not-so-surprising start, Seattle Prep’s steady improvement and Archbishop Murphy’s coming together.
I’ll also acknowledge some big performances, a couple of upsets from Wednesday and key upcoming games.
Please feel free to make suggestions for future topics. The season is flying by and the playoffs are just around the corner.
Arlington living up to high expectations, and then some
Joe Marsh knew he’d have a good team at Arlington this season.
But this good?
The Eagles improved to 13-0 last night with a 50-40 victory over Edmonds-Woodway and are currently the fourth-ranked team in the state in Class 4A.
“I knew I had a good group,” said Marsh, in his second year as head coach. “We had some success in the summer and we expected to be a good team. One of our goals was to compete for the league title and I felt we had the talent to do that…We had high expectations coming in, but I don’t know if I expected us to do what we’ve done so far.”
Arlington got everyone’s attention with a 77-51 victor over Lake Stevens, then ranked No. 3. The Eagles sank an eye-popping 16-of-35 three-pointers that night, which Marsh still calls “crazy,” especially since this is not a team that lives and dies by the three.
The offense is balanced, led by seniors Lindsay Brown (12.9 points per game) and Krista Showalter (10.8 ppg), the lone returning starters from last year’s team, which was eliminated in the Northwest District tournament.
Five others average five points or better.
“We spread it around pretty well,” Marsh said. “It’s not the case where you can stop one kid and beat us.”
It’s a senior-oriented squad, but the coach acknowledged that sophomore Jessica Ludwig has been a spark off the bench. She is third in scoring at 8.2 per game.
Despite all of the offense (Arlington averages 55 points a game), defense has been the difference. The Eagles are allowing just over 33 points per outing.
“Our defense has been great,” Marsh said. “It’s been a mainstay for us.”
At 8-0 in the WesCo North, the Eagles have a nice cushion over Snohomish (5-3, 10-4) Lake Stevens (8-6, 4-4). But there will be no coasting to the finish line. They face surging Jackson (7-1 in the WesCo South, 8-4 overall) at home this Friday, then travel to No. 7 Lynnwood (7-1, 12-1) next Wednesday. The rematch with Lake Stevens is Jan. 25, on the road.
“We have our toughest stretch of basketball coming up right now,” Marsh said. “We’re going to find out how good we were in the next two weeks. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
‘Best is yet to come’ for Seattle Prep
Before the season started, coach Michelle Hall told me the key to Seattle Prep’s season would be how well the girls played together.
It took the Panthers a little while to get on the same page as they started the season just 2-2 with back-to-back losses to Lakeside and Cleveland.
But they’ve gone 7-1 since, with that lone loss coming in a holiday tournament to Gonzaga Prep, currently ranked No. 2 among Class 4A teams. They have climbed from No. 9 to No. 4 in the latest 3A poll, just behind Cleveland.
And when I asked Hall this week about how the team is playing, a familiar theme popped up in the conversation.
“They’re playing together,” she said. “We have five seniors committed to playing hard and going that extra mile. On any given night, we can have a different high scorer. The chemistry and camaraderie, all of that is great.”
Michaela Carew, a 6-2 senior, is “coming into her own this year,” Hall said.
“Every game, she’s doing good things,” she said, noting she held her own in the holiday tourney against teams featuring 6-3 and 6-5 players.
Carew is averaging 9.5 points and has been invited to walk on at Montana State, but is still keeping her options open, according to Hall.
The team’s leading scorer is junior guard Mary Ann Santucci (11.8), who also gets all of the tough defensive assignments.
“She can have an off game on offense, and she picks it up on defense,” Hall said. “We ask her to do a lot.”
Three others average seven points or better, including 5-5 senior Holly Tonry, who missed the second half of last season with a broken wrist.
“She would have been a difference-maker (last season),” Hall said.
The Panthers feature one of the tallest teams in the Metro League, including 6-1 Nicole Hall and 6-foot Quinn Glosniak, a pair of seniors who have been on varsity since they were freshmen.
Depth is a plus as coach Hall expects to be able to go nine deep during the playoffs.
“Everybody’s accepting their roles,” Hall said. “When they do that, the sky’s the limit. . . . When we play well as a team, I always tell the girls the best is yet to come.”
Prep is 6-1 in the Metro Mountain Division, chasing sixth-ranked Holy Names (8-1, 11-1). They are responsible for the Cougars’ lone loss of the season, 51-33 back on Dec. 19. The rematch is next Wednesday, then Prep gets another shot at Lakeside on Jan. 18.
Hall was quick to point out her team isn’t looking past anyone along the way.
“If you go in complacent, you wind up on the losing end,” she said. “But I really like where we are right now.”
ATM comes together with blend of youth and experience
Chemistry was a concern for coach Mark Bircher as he looked at the dynamics of this year’s Archbishop Murphy team.
The Wildcats have an interesting mix of seniors and freshmen, with a key sophomore added in.
“It took a while to learn how to play together,” the second-year head coach said. “Our team is starting to gel. The kids are starting to hang out together. The freshmen are getting more comfortable playing with the older kids and getting more confident. They’re playing with a lot of energy. They’re a lot of fun to watch.”
Even while they were learning, the Wildcats were winning – most of the time. After a season-opening loss to Burlington-Edison, then ranked No. 3 in Class 2A, ATM reeled off seven straight victories before losing to Post Falls – one of the top teams in Idaho – in their own holiday tournament. And they played the Trojans tough after falling into a 16-3 hole.
“That was the beginning of their coming together,” Bircher said. “We can play with anybody – that’s how we felt when we left that game.”
The Wildcats are now 10-2, 7-0 in the Cascade Conference, and their only other close game of the season was against No. 8 Cedarcrest, 52-50. Those two teams meet again at Cedarcrest on Jan. 22.
Beth Carlson, a 6-2 senior who has signed with Santa Clara, is ATM’s top player. She averages 15 points and 14 rebounds per game. She is the league’s two-time Player of the Year.
“She is our absolute workhorse,” Bircher said. “Every game, she’s got kids hanging all over her.”
The coach also praised Carlson’s leadership this season.
The team’s second-leading scorer is freshman Madison Pollack (12 ppg), followed by sophomore Monti Cooper (10 ppg). Bircher said Megan Wall, another frosh, gives the Wildcats “a ton of energy” coming off the bench and he called senior Anna Maher the “unsung hero” of the team.
“She does a little bit of everything for us,” he said. “She’s so unselfish.”
Maher averages around five points, six rebounds, four rebounds and three steals.
Upset city in KingCo 4A Wednesday
Just last week, Inglemoor was cruising along at 10-0 and had rising to No. 3 in the Class 4A state rankings. Then came a 56-46 loss on Friday to Woodinville. Then last night, the Vikings fell again, 59-50 to an Issaquah team that is much better than its 7-4 record might indicate. Maddie Hill led the Eagles with 20 points, 13 coming in the fourth quarter.
Coach Kathy Gibson called it “a great team win for our girls….My team worked like crazy to out-work them and come up with every loose ball.”
And Eastlake took down No. 5 Skyline, 47-39. It was the first in-state loss for the Spartans (11-3). Ellie Woerner had 16 points to pace the up-and-down Wolves (6-7), while Marijka Vanderschaaf added 10. Skyline’s Haley Smith was held to five points (less than half her average), matching her season low. Eastlake is 5-2 in the KingCo Crest Division.
There was a near upset in the WescCo 3A North last night as No. 7 Stanwood had to rally from 12 points down to beat Glacier Peak, 40-31. The Grizzlies were outscored 25-4 in the fourth quarter.
The drive to 25
Here are some players who scored 25 points or more over the past week (I apologize if I’ve missed others):
Masha Shtikel (Shorewood) – poured in a career-high 34 Friday to key a 59-49 victory over Everett.
Riley Clark (Emerald Ridge) – the savvy sophomore hit 30 (and had 16 boards) in a 61-45 loss to Federal Way Tuesday. It’s her sixth game of the season with 25 or more, raising her average to 23.8.
Kennedy Hobert (White River) – keyed the 57-36 win over Sumner Tuesday with a season-best 30.
Laruen Jones (Eastside Catholic) – more than doubled her season average with 30 in a 79-40 romp against Rainier Beach Friday.
Oliva Ho (Muckleshoot Tribal) – accounted for nearly all of her team’s 32 points in a loss to Mount Rainier Lutheran with 28 on Friday, then tossed in 29 in a 67-45 win over Quilcene. She’s averaging 26.6.
Brittany McPhee (Mount Rainier) – the area’s top scorer had 27 against Kent-Meridian Saturday (75-29 victory), her eighth game of the season with 25 or more, and it dropped her average to 27.7.
Kiki Harpoer (Everett) – did her best to keep the Seagulls close against Meadowdale last night with 27, but the Mavs prevailed, 40-31.
Raven Benton (Federal Way) – notched 26 in a 57-46 win over Rogers Saturday, also her eighth time with 25 or more this season. She ranks No. 2 on the scoring list at 27.2.
Nneka Nnadi (Spanaway Lake) – her 26-point effort helped lift the Sentinels past Graham-Kapowsin Saturday, 53-44.
Taylor Farris (Renton) – had 26 last night in a lopsided win over Tyee after scoring 25 Friday against Lindbergh.
Eunyque Pata (Foster) – tossed in 25 to lead the Bulldogs past Lindbergh last night, 59-36. Earlier in the season, she scored 33 in a loss to Chief Sealth.
Here are a few of the Friday games of note (nothing really stood out on the schedule for tonight and Saturday; when I post the updated rankings Monday, I’ll mention key contests for early next week):
Jackson at Arlington, 7:15 p.m. – Battle between cross-division leaders (Jackson tied for first in WesCo 4A South with Lynnwood)
Beamer at Federal Way 7 p.m. – Key SPSL 4A South showdown as the No. 10 Titans (8-0, 10-2) battle their district rivals, who feature the high-scoring Raven Benton
Lynnwood at Snohomish 7:15 p.m. – Snohomish was ranked earlier this season and has won some big games
Mercer Island at Juanita 6:30 p.m. – No. 9 Rebels (7-0, 10-3) face a MI squad (5-2, 10-3) that is playing tough
Kennedy Catholic at Renton, 6:15 p.m. – Seamount League lead is on the line as both are 7-0; Renton (11-2) is ranked No. 9 in 2A; Kennedy (8-4) has been a 3A power