With a string of wins, the Yelm girls basketball team has gone undefeated for their first four games, and the Rainier girls basketball team has picked up three wins of its own.
Yelm High School
Coach Russ Riches said his team is really racking up the points each game, saying that everyone on the team has been scoring, with really balanced plays allowing playmakers to step up big when needed.
“We’re just getting balance from everybody,” Riches said. “It’s been really fun to watch, just to see the kids really take their role from the evening and flourish in it. I’m hoping that we can just continue that.”
Riches said the girls’ wins speak well for them when looking ahead to the rest of the season.
“If we play at our level of basketball, then we’re really the only one that can beat ourselves,” he said.
They played their first game on May 4 against North Thurston High School in Yelm, a 71-27 blowout victory.
“Because it was the first game, we needed our seniors to step up and play well just to get us off the ground and going, and they did,” Riches said.
The high-point scorers were seniors My’Kel Jones with 20 and Bayleigh Harder with 19. Freshman Lillian Willams also played well with eight points.
“(Willams) started as our point guard as a freshman, which is a tough thing to do typically, but the stage didn’t seem too big for her,” Riches said.
The second game was at Capital High School on May 7, amounting to a 71-45 win.
The high-point scorers were Harder with two, Lenna Miskimens with 12 and Jones with 10.
“We went to Capital and it’s always a challenge to play there,” Riches said. “It was a close ballgame in the first half. I think we were up 12 at halftime, or something like that, and then only allowed two points in the third quarter and went from being up 12 to up 25. So we put that game away.”
The third game was on May 11, against River Ridge High School at Yelm, which saw the Tornados win 65-41.
The high-point scorers were freshman Henlee Sherman with 15, and Miskimens and Jones each with 12.
“We’re playing well,” Riches said. “I’m really pleased with how we’ve developed chemistry early. You know, when you put three freshmen into your lineup, just because we didn’t have a summer last year, the kids didn’t get to know each other.”
The fourth game was a 69-33 victory against Timberline on May 14, a contest that Riches said was the team’s first true test.
The high-point scorers were senior Samantha Rohwedder with 17, Harder with 13, and Jones with 12.
Now, the goal is for the team to remain undefeated, Riches said.
“The way that we’ve been playing, that’s our goal now, is to go undefeated and to win the league,” he said.
Rainier High School
Coach Brandon Eygabroad said his team’s first four games show the Mountaineers’ skill, but also charts out a path to improvement. They won three out of their first four games.
“We’re really just focused on fine tuning little details,” Eygabroad said. “Whether it’s team defense or our chemistry on offense, we’re just trying to tune all that up.”
Yet when it comes to defense, that tuning work is just maintenance.
“We’ve held some people to some low-scoring games to 40, or in the 40s, which is right around where we want to be, so defensively we’re alright,” he said. “But we’ve still got stuff to work on through.”
Eygabroad said the 46-45 loss against Adna was a “heartbreaker,” but there’s not much his team can do against a wrong call at the end of the game.
He said the game was tied at the end of the first quarter, with Adna doing a good job of disrupting the Mountaineers’ flow, playing effective defense. Then, Adna was up by two at the end of the half and went up by five at the end of the third.
“We actually got a lead at the end of the fourth quarter,” Eygabroad said. “Faith (Boesch) hit a three about 15 seconds to go. They draw up a play at about 10 seconds (and) they got a bucket. So they go up by one, with 1.8 seconds. We call a timeout.
“We throw the ball, three-quarter court. Kaeley Schultz catches it; takes two dribbles; released. The ball goes in. We’re celebrating. The (referee) comes in, waves it off. So it was a bit of a heartbreaker, considering that there was still time off the clock. Unfortunately, he had the wrong call.”
Tenino: 51-38 victory — the high-point scorers were juniors Schultz with 23, Boesch with 11 and Isabella Holmes with six.
Toledo: 44-29 victory — the high-point scorers were Schultz with 27, and Bryn Beckman and Selena Niemi each with five.
Adna: 46-45 loss — the high-point scorers were Holmes with 21, Boesch with eight and Beckman with six.
Toutle Lake: 57-31 victory — the high-point scorers were Beckman with 14, Niemi with 12 and Brooklyn Swenson and Haleigh Hanson each with eight.
“We played with three starters out, and ended up winning by 26,” Eygabroad said of the Toutle Lake game. “It was a real balanced game with everyone contributing.”
The game saw five eighth graders as well as one freshman, sophomore and junior play.
“This short season is a great opportunity because there’s not a lot of pressure on this season, so I am going to use it as an extended summer and an opportunity to mold these girls together,” Eygabroad said.