Kassuba goes on scoring spree, but Lady Spartans fall short

December 23, 2013

By Neil Pierson

With its top-three scorers from last season now playing college basketball, the Skyline Spartans girls basketball team has had to find new offensive sources this year.

Senior wing Shelby Kassuba is one of the players who has stepped forward, and she nearly led the Spartans to an important Class 4A KingCo Conference win Dec. 18.

Kassuba scored a career-high 24 points, including 16 in the second half, but it wasn’t enough as Skyline’s rally fell short in a 61-58 loss to the visiting Bothell Cougars.

Kassuba’s outburst upped her scoring average to 12.2 points per game, and it gave Spartans coach Greg Bruns something to smile about.

“That was good to see,” Bruns said. “She was due for that, and she’d been struggling a little bit offensively, but boy, she was knocking down shots and feeling it tonight.”

However, Skyline (3-3 overall, 1-3 conference) had trouble containing Bothell’s duo of Brenda Akoto and Taya Corosdale.

Corosdale, a 6-foot freshman, had 24 points, and Akoto, a 5-11 sophomore, added 14 points as the Cougars (3-2, 2-2) dominated the battle under the basket.

“They have some young, talented posts that can do a lot of damage, and we just didn’t give them the attention that we needed to,” Bruns said. “We knew that. We saw that from scouting, and knew that we had to pay attention to them.”

Foul trouble played a big part in Skyline’s defensive deficiencies. Senior post Bryn deVita sat the bench much of the game after picking up two fouls in the first quarter. She picked up a third shortly before halftime, and was disqualified with two fouls in a 26-second span of the fourth quarter.

The Spartans’ leading scorer with a 13.5 average, deVita was held to seven points and didn’t have the rebounding or shot-blocking presence her team usually counts on.

“She’s been a leader with us for the first five, six games,” Bruns said, “where she’s not only scoring and defending and rebounding – she’s leading the team in all those categories – but she’s also a smart kid.

“All the other kids look up to her, and so to not have her on the floor is tough just because she does a lot of good things.”

The first half was a fast-paced, back-and-forth affair in which neither team gained a big advantage. Bothell, paced by Corosdale’s 14 points, went to the locker room with a 27-25 lead.

Skyline didn’t take enough good shots in the first half, Bruns believed, settling for a lot of jump shots early in possessions.

“That was probably the biggest conversation that we had (at halftime), that we were just a little rushed,” he said. “And we weren’t running anything. The ball got in hands for a rebound, and it was already shot again.”

Kassuba had a huge third period, drilling three 3-pointers to keep the Spartans close. But the Cougars capped a big surge early in the fourth quarter, using a Randy Dixon 3-pointer and an Erin Burns breakaway layup to build a 54-43 lead.

After deVita fouled out with five minutes to play, Skyline came on strong.

Kassuba stole the ball and sank a 3-pointer, and a traveling call on Bothell was followed by two Alex Daugherty free throws that trimmed the Cougars’ lead to two points with 25 seconds left.

Bothell’s Hanna Tyndall hit one free throw with 6 seconds to play, and Skyline had a chance to tie at the other end.

But Alicia Shim passed on a 3-point try, then missed on a driving attempt as the clock expired.

Daugherty and Taylor McKerlich scored 10 points each for Skyline, and Burns added 13 for Bothell.

The Spartans are headed to a tournament in Walnut Creek, Calif., over the holiday break, and return to KingCo action Jan. 8 at Woodinville.

Bruns said the team should continue improving, and was pleased with the way the girls fought back against Bothell.

“We make a couple shots there in the last two minutes and we actually take the lead again,” he said. “They’re a team that doesn’t quit.”

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