It’s time for your weekly girls basketball fix!
In this volume of Post-Ups, you get a look at Cedarcrest’s bid for a first-ever state berth, Stanwood’s run in WesCo 3A and Woodinville’s success in the post-Ali Forde period.
Plus, I’ve got high scorers, info about the key games from last (Wednesday) night and a some contests worth watching this weeking. And there’s a bonus mention of the Martin Luther King Jr. events to wrap things up.
This could be the year for Cedarcrest
The goal is clear for the Cedarcrest Red Wolves, and has been all season.
Coach Brad Knowles made certain of that.
“On the very first day of practice, I put up a sign that says, ‘STATE’ and that’s been our goal all along,” Knowles said. “The girls touch it before and after every practice and before every game.”
Sure, reaching the state tournament is a common goal, but one Cedarcrest has yet to achieve since opening in the fall of 1993.
This could be the year.
The Red Wolves lost just one senior from last year’s team, which finished 13-9 and was eliminated in the Northwest 2A District tournament. Susan Kenney led them in scoring as a sophomore at 15 points per game, and missed the season-ending contest against Lynden after suffering a dislocated shoulder in the tourney opener.
Kenney, a 5-6 guard, is back and again leads the team in scoring, currently averaging 14.4. She is a key reason the Red Wolves are 13-2 (8-1 in the Cascade Conference) and ranked No. 8 in Class 2A.
But this season, Kenney has more help. Two others average in double figures – Kailyn Campbell (12.5) and Kalee Fowler (12.3), and Sarah Stauffer is close behind at 9.1. Lacey Deming has had a pair of 10-point games, raising her average to 4.9.
Revving up the offense was a priority when Knowles took over the program last season.
“Two years ago, they averaged just 43 points,” he said. “I wanted to improve that. My goal was for them to average around 60 points.”
Last year’s team raised the average to 51 points per game and the Red Wolves are currently at scoring at a 58.6 clip. They are playing better defense, too.
“This year, I knew I had the scoring and the one thing we needed to improve on was defense,” Knowles said, noting the players again bought in – as witnessed by the 33.6 points the team allows per game. “They thrive on playing defense, they’re very hungry.
South Whidbey’s 5-foor-11 Hayley Newman came into last Saturday’s game with Cedarcrest averaging 14.7 points per game, but was held to just a pair of free throws by Courtney McKinney and Molly Hammontree, according to the coach. He added that Sarah Stauffer is his best defensive guard.
One thing the Red Wolves don’t have is depth with only eight players on varsity (and six on junior varsity). But all eight played varsity last season.
“It’s a seasoned group,” Knowles said.
The group has already accomplished one “first” this season – beating King’s for the first time, 41-34 back on Jan. 4. They nearly got their first victory over No. 7 Archbishop Murphy last month, but lost 52-50 on the road, letting a one-point lead slip away after turning the ball over in the final 40 seconds.
The Red Wolves have a chance to win at least a share of the Cascade Conference title for the first time, but likely will have to win their final five games – including rematches at home with Archbishop Murphy next Tuesday and King’s on Jan. 29.
And, ultimately, they hope to get that long-awaited state berth.
Stanwood standing up just fine in WesCo 3A
Dennis Kloke came into the season with a lot of question marks.
Not about necessarily about his Stanwood team, but just how that team would stack up in the new WesCo 3A.
“I knew we would be pretty decent, but the two Marysville schools were the only two (in WesCo 3A) we’d ever faced before,” Kloke said.
Thus far, the Spartans are faring just fine, leading WesCo 3A North at 8-0 after Wednesday’s key cross-division victory over red-hot Meadowdale, 54-53. It was their sixth straight win since a six-point loss to 4A Snohomish back in late December and clinches no worse than a tie for the division title (with a five-point cushion over Everett and just five league games to go, they’d have to lose out to not earn the title outright).
Meadowdale (10-5, 5-3 WesCo South) was riding a seven-game win streak.
Stanwood’s only other loss was to another 4A team, fourth-ranked Arlington.
There were plenty of reasons for optimism from the start. The Spartans were coming off an outstanding season in WesCo 4A, sharing the North Division title with Lake Stevens at 14-1. Overall, they finished 23-3 – one win short of the state quarterfinals as they were eliminated by Federal Way in the regional round.
Sure, only one starter returned – but a very good one in 6-3 senior Rachel Swartz, the team’s third-leading scorer last season at 9.5. But 6-foot sophomore Tristan Murphy was also in the regular rotation and Kloke had a lot of confidence in the players coming up from the junior varsity.
“I knew we would have some talent because the kids who are juniors this year played two years on the junior varsity team that completed daily against last year’s (varsity) group,” he said. “It’s the first time I felt our JV could compete daily with that group. We were very blessed.”
A foot injury forced Swartz to miss the opening three games of this season, including that 55-38 loss to Arlington The Spartans get another shot at the Eagles this Saturday, with Swartz – who has signed with Missouri State – in the lineup.
Several players have missed time throughout the season due to illnesses and injuries – only three girls have been able to play in all 14 games. But depth, and balance, are two of the team’s strengths. No one averages in double-figures, but seven different players have scored at least 10 points in at least one game.
“If one player is taken away, we have others who can step up,” Kloke said. ‘I’m nine deep, which is good and bad when you’re trying to find playing time for everyone.”
He is pleased overall with how the team has performed – to a degree.
“Like any coach, I think we can be better,” the coach said. “Our youth shows sometimes in games when we lose focus. And it’s not just one or two (players), it can be three or four.”
He has found WesCo 3A to be competitive.
“On any give night, a WesCo team can beat any other WesCo team,” Kloke said. “And I’d say the South, from top to bottom, is a little stronger than the North.”
The Spartans won’t be able to coast to the finish line as the remaining schedule also includes Shorewood (12-3, 7-1 South Division).
“I’m really excited about the teams we are playing,” Kloke said. “It will give us a real barometer of where we’re at.”
Woodinville still winning without all-state Forde
Watch the Woodinville Falcons this season and one thing is clear.
As coach Scott Bullock puts it: “There’s no Ali Forde out there.”
Of course, athletes like Forde are rare – she is now playing volleyball and basketball at Idaho as a freshman. She was a key reason Woodinville earned state trophies at the state basketball tournament the past two seasons (sixth in 2012 and fifth the year before). She averaged 14 points and 13 rebounds her senior year to earn all-state honors.
Other players made key contributions last season, certainly, but the rotation went only about six or seven deep.
Now, Bulluck regularly uses 10 players and the leading scorer might change on any given night.
“We have a lot of depth,” Bullock said. “A lot of girls can handle the ball, a lot of girls can score. We don’t necessarily have an all-state player, but we have good balance. It’s a different player stepping up every night.”
Early on, explosive junior Mackenzie Campbell was averaging nearly 20 points per game, then she strained her PCL, which fortunately did not require surgery. She missed seven games – and the Falcons lost the first two with her on the bench, falling to Eastlake and Skyline.
They fell out of the state rankings after starting at No. 6. But they haven’t lost since and once again are ranked sixth. They won their eighth straight last night, 54-52 over a solid Newport team, to improve to 7-2 in the Crest Division (tied with Inglemoor), 13-2 overall.
Even without Campbell, Woodinville won the Cactus Jam in Phoenix. Senior point guard Kim Frost averaged 13 points in the three games to earn MVP honors, and junior Sabin Keo landed a spot on the all-tourney team with her defensive play.
Bullock said Frost is the team’s most improved player.
“I don’t know if there’s a faster player in the state,” he said, adding that she is playing more in control than ever before.
Keo is among the best athletes on the squad, according to Bullock, and senior co-captain Seattle Farner is making an impact after missing the first eight games of the season with an ankle sprain.
“If there’s a 50-50 ball, I’m betting 90-10 Seattle is going to get it,” Bullock said. “What I like most about this group of kids I have is they like to compete. If you’ve got kids who want to go to battle, you feel you can play with anybody.
The Falcons’ tallest starter is 5-9 Erin Hamilton, yet they didn’t back down earlier this month when they went against a tall Inglemoor loaded with 6-footers (including 6-4 Deja’ Strother). The Vikings were 10-0 at the time and ranked No. 3. Inglemoor was still without Campbell, but Woodinville prevailed, 56-46. Hamilton had a team-high 14 points, but seven others contributed four or more (four players scored seven apiece).
Bullock said his team’s goal every season is to play in the KingCo championship game, and the Falcons are in position to get there again – but the stretch run won’t be easy. There is a lot of parity in the conference this season. Woodinville faces Issaquah and Eastlake next week and will close out the regular season on Feb. 1 against none other than Inglemoor, which knocked off No. 9 Skyline last night.
The drive to 25
Kudos to these girls, who poured in 25 points or more over the past week, based on reports to The Times (as always, it’s possible I missed somebody and if so I apologize):
Rodericka Ware, Lakes – went off for 38 in a 72-41 victory over Peninsula.
Raven Benton, Federal Way – notched 30 to lead the Eagles past Spanaway Lake, 59-39 (her sixth game of the season with 30 or more).
Kaycee Creech, Cascade Christian – poured in 30 to account for more than half of her team’s total in a 49-43 triumph over Eatonville.
Brittany McPhee, Mount Rainier – tossed in 29 in a 62-32 win over Auburn.
Alicia Dugan, Kentridge – hit a season-high 28 to lead the Chargers past Jefferson, 66-45.
Masha Shtikel, Shorewood – keyed a 60-54 victory over Marysville-Pilchuck with 27.
Taylor Farris, Renton – got 26 against Evergreen (62-16 romp).
Grace Kenyon, Bainbridge – finished with 25 against Nathan Hale (60-27 win).
Olivia Ho, Muckleshoot Tribal – had 25 against Shorewood Christian (68-37 victory).
In case you missed it
I thought there were three key games Wednesday night, and I covered one of them – Inglemoor’s hard-fought victory over Skyline. You can read my story here.
No. 5 Lynnwood handed No. 4 Arlington its first loss of the season. Intern Ryan Hueter was there for us and you can check his story is here.
We weren’t able to anyone to the 3A showdown between No. 4 Seattle Prep and No. 5 Holy Names, but Prep prevailed, 49-37. The Panthers are responsible for Holy Names’ lone two losses.
And I was a bit surprised by Liberty’s 70-65 win over Juanita – then I saw where the game went to triple-overtime. Delane Agnew, who came in averaging less than seven points per game, exploded for 24 to lead the way. It was just the second league loss for the Rebels (10-5, 7-2). Liberty improved to 6-3 in KingCo 3A/2A, 9-6 overall.
Games of note (in my book) Friday and Saturday:
Skyline at Newport, 6:30 p.m. – Can the Spartans bounce back from Wednesday’s disappointing loss to Inblemoor?
Bellevue at Juanita, 6:30 p.m. – No. 9 Wolverines owe their only loss to the Rebels, 68-60, on Dec. 21.
Lakeside at Seattle Prep, 8 p.m. – No. 4 Panthers look to avenge one of their only Mountain Division loss (they fell 40-36 way back on Nov. 30).
Bethel at Federal Way, 7 p.m. – The Eagles fell 45-32 the first time around for one of their two SPSL South losses.
Arlington @ Stanwood, 7:15 p.m. – As noted earlier, 4A Arlington is one of only two teams to beat 3A Stanwood this season, and the Eagles are coming off that loss to Lynnwood.
Mount Rainier @ Kentwood, 7:30 p.m. – Kentwood (10-2) has won seven in a row since a 68-41 loss to the top-ranked, unbeaten Rams.
The place(s) to be on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
I’ll be at Showare all day Monday for the King Showcase, so you can look for updated rankings early that morning.
I’m really looking forward to finally seeing Mount Rainier play as they face their biggest test to date against a storied Oregon City club that was ranked No. 14 in the nation earlier this season (but has since lost once). I saw the Pioneers against Beamer last month, and they are as-advertised. Should be a great matchup.
That game tips off at 1 p.m.
The other girls game at Showare that day should also be entertaining as Jackson plays Kentwood at 10 a.m.
And how I wish I could be two places at once, because over at SPU in the King Holiday Hoopfest there’s a 3A showdown between No. 1 Wilson and No. 3 Cleveland at 10:30 a.m. Jayson Jenks will be there all day.
Too bad there is only one girls game in the event at SPU (compared to six boys games). I’ve always lobbied for more. At least there are two at Showare (and five boys games), although I would like to see three in the future.
Information in this post, originally published Jan. 17, 2013, was corrected Jan. 17, 2013. A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that Seattle Prep has only one Metro loss, instead of one Metro Mountain Division loss (they also lost a cross-division game to Cleveland).