Spartans roar into postseason with 76-44 win over Bothell

February 12, 2013

By Lillian O'Rorke

By Lillian O’Rorke Haley Smith, Skyline High School senior, drives the ball down the court during the Feb. 6 KingCo playoff game against Bothell.

By Lillian O’Rorke
Haley Smith, Skyline High School senior, drives the ball down the court during the Feb. 6 KingCo playoff game against Bothell.

The postseason started with a bang for the Skyline High School girls basketball team Feb. 6 when it blasted Bothell, 76-44, in the first round of the KingCo 4A Championships.

Seeded No. 1 in the Crown division, the Skyline Spartans came out with a strong defense. Senior guards Rachel Shim and Lacey Nicholson were glued to two of the Bothell Cougars top scorers, Randi Dixon and Erin Burns, and together with their teammates held the Cougars’ offense to only two points during regular play in the first quarter.

“My mentality going into every game is pretty much putting it all into defense and then once I put it all into defense my offense eventually comes,” Shim said. “We’re a very defensive-minded team. We try to come out with that much aggressiveness every game.”

However, the Spartans’ eagerness to force a turnover or get a steal also put them into foul trouble, which allowed Bothell to score six free-throw points in the first quarter.

“We’ve done that in the past, where we get too amped up for games, and we’re trying to get a steal out of every play,” Skyline coach Greg Bruns said. “You don’t have to pressure so much that you’re reaching and fouling and getting us in trouble. The main thing is to make it difficult for them.”

Skyline’s eager defense continued to force several turnovers in the second quarter, including a steal by sophomore Stella Mazzaferro. With four minutes left in the first half, Mazzaferro seized the ball and ran half the court before netting two to give Skyline a solid 10-point lead at 25-15.

The Spartans were ahead, 34-21, when they returned after halftime. They quickly expanded their lead with two consecutive baskets, the first from Shelby Kassuba and the second from Haley Smith. Ballard landed a 3-pointer to break up Skyline’s run, but Smith answered by netting two more buckets.

Running a more controlled defense, the Spartans still capitalized on turnovers. About halfway through the third quarter, Mazzaferro made another steal and quickly passed it to Smith, who then fired it to Nicholson. Open at the other end of the court, Nicholson netted the ball to finish the play. That started Skyline on a 14-0 run, which included four more points and a defensive block from Smith, five points by Alex Daugherty and a 3-pointer and an offense rebound tapped in by Kassuba to give Skyline a 28-point lead.

“Honestly, I didn’t even notice until I came out in the fourth quarter and I was like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe we actually got that high,’” Kassuba said. “I feel really good right now because the last couple games I haven’t done very well shot-wise. So, this game I was really happy to come out and shoot and help my team win.”

The 76-44 victory, coupled with Skyline having won its last five regular season games, put the Spartans on a six-game winning streak and advanced them to the KingCo semifinal game Feb. 9, where they defeated Newport, 47-33. Skyline is now set to battle Inglemoor at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 15 for the KingCo championship title. Win or lose, both second- and first-place finishers qualify for the state championship.

“I’m feeling really good. This season has been going really well for me and the entire team,” Smith said. The senior added that this year’s record is the best the team has had, at least since she’s been on the team. “We’re definitely off to a good start and hopefully we can just keep the momentum.”


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