When Loren Tillman took over as head girls basketball coach at Sammamish last season, he knew he’d have a challenge on his hands.
But even he was surprised at how big that challenge was.
“Some of the girls had never played before, so I had to explain certain things, like where the out-of-bounds lines were and how to line up to shoot free throws,” he said. “I thought, ‘This is high-school basketball. I should not have to do that.”
Four of the teams starters were freshmen and they finished 3-17, 0-14 in KingCo 3A/2A.
The Totems have come a long way over the past year and a half. Wednesday night, they beat Interlake in overtime, 46-41, to improve to 5-7 on the season. But the big news is that it was their first league victory since January of 2005, according to a local stat-keeper, snapping a 110-game league losing streak.
“They went crazy,” Tillman said of his players. “I went crazy. It was real, real emotional; real, real happy, ecstatic.”
The few fans in the stands poured ont he court to celebrate.
It was a huge step for a team that had come close twice before this season, only to fall short. Sammamish let a 15-point lead slip away against Mount Si last Friday, losing by five. earlier in the season, the Totems dropped a one-point game to Mercer Island.
And this one was in doubt after Interlake used a 21-7 fourth quarter to force overtime. There was a little of that “uh-oh” feeling, but sophomores Morgan Mincy and Kelsey Brooks made sure this one didn’t get away.
Brooks made a basket and free throw in OT, accounting for three of her five points. Mincy added a pair of free throws to finish with 11 points. She had eight rebounds as well.
“We’ve been close a couple of times, but couldn’t hold on,” Tillman said. “In the past, it hasn’t gone our way. This time, they held it out.”
He believes this is just the beginning.
“I think we can get some more (wins),” he said. “I’m sure we can.”