Spartans, Wolves win at tournaments

January 7, 2014

By Neil Pierson

Basketball teams that shoot 11 of 31 at the free-throw line don’t typically win, but the Skyline High School girls managed to do it during their most recent outing.

In the championship game of the Emerald Division at the West Coast Jamboree in Dublin, Calif., Skyline shot a miserable 35 percent at the charity stripe. Yet the Spartans managed to outlast host Valley Christian 57-54 on Dec. 30.

The Skyline High School girls basketball team celebrated Dec. 30 with a division championship at the West Coast Jamboree in California. The Spartans upped their record to 6-3 with three wins at the tournament. Contributed

The Skyline High School girls basketball team celebrated Dec. 30 with a division championship at the West Coast Jamboree in California. The Spartans upped their record to 6-3 with three wins at the tournament. Contributed

The Spartans (6-3 overall) built a 45-35 lead after three quarters, but had to fend off a late challenge from a Valley Christian team sporting a 9-0 record and playing in front of its home fans.

After VC cut its deficit to one point, Skyline made three pivotal plays down the stretch, coach Greg Bruns said.

First, the Spartans picked up a defensive rebound and made a couple transition passes that resulted in a layup for Taylor McKerlich with 30 seconds left.

Then, after another VC basket again made it a one-point game, Maddy Adamson sank two free throws to put Skyline up by three with 10 seconds left.

Adamson blocked VC’s potential game-tying 3-pointer at the other end of the court, sealing the win.

“It got pretty frantic at the end,” Bruns said.

Skyline started the Bay Area tourney – a 100-team, 13-bracket spectacle – with a 71-33 blowout of Washington, Ga. Eleven of the 12 Spartans scored, led by Shelby Kassuba’s 16 points and Promise Taylor’s 13.

Skyline advanced to the title game with a 42-26 triumph over Pleasant Grove, Utah. The Spartans’ defense held Pleasant Grove to single-digit scoring in each quarter, and Kassuba paced the offense with 10 points.

McKerlich scored 14 points to lead the way against Valley Christian, and the sophomore earned the tourney’s Most Valuable Player award.

Bruns said McKerlich only made 2 of 12 free-throw attempts, but she made up for it with some big rebounds and her overall tenacity around the hoop.

“It’s kind of the makeup of our team; we don’t have a superstar,” Bruns said. “She’s been consistent, and she carried us through the tournament.”

Skyline returns to action Jan. 8 with a 7:30 p.m. start at Woodinville, and the Spartans will be trying to avoid a 1-4 start in KingCo Conference play.

Bruns wants his players to resolve their free-throw woes, and the California trip saw improvements on defense.

“Little by little, I think, they’re understanding what team defense is all about,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Eastlake High girls were busy wrapping up their own championship in the Slam Division of the Surf ‘N Slam San Diego Hoop Classic.

Eastlake finished its three-game run with a 52-30 rout of Lafayette, Ky. Senior post Marijke Vanderschaaf had 15 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Junior guard Ellie Woerner had 14 points and seven rebounds, and senior wing Rachel Lorentson added 14 points, hitting 4 of 6 3-point tries.

The Wolves opened the tourney Dec. 27 with a 54-36 win over Colony, Alaska. Senior post Maggie Douglas scored a game-high 16 points.

A day later against Tamalpais, Calif., Douglas had 12 points, three assists and three steals, and Vanderschaaf had 17 points, seven boards and four blocks in Eastlake’s 50-24 win.

Washington teams did well at the Surf ‘N Slam tourney. The girls squads from Prairie and Auburn Mountainview won their divisions, as did the Hockinson boys.

Eastlake assistant coach Megan Reinhart said the tourney was a good chance for the Wolves to develop team chemistry at both ends of the floor.

Eastlake has won eight in a row since its opening-game loss to Mount Rainier, and is undefeated in KingCo play.

The Wolves host the Ballard Beavers in their next game, Jan. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

The Wolves think they have a great chance to play for the conference title in February, Reinhart said, but they’re trying to live in the moment.

And they’re not overly concerned with their subpar shooting percentage of 36 percent.

“We play in a very tough league with fantastic competition, and every night is different – the ball may fall and the ball may not,” Reinhart said. “So we focus on the things we can control like our defensive effort and team communication.”

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