The Eastlake Wolves girls basketball team is clicking on all cylinders in early season action.
The Wolves, who advanced to the Class 4A state basketball tournament last season, improved their overall record to 5-0 courtesy of a convincing 70-52 victory against the Newport Knights on Dec. 8 in Factoria. Newport dropped to 2-1 overall with the loss. Newport cut Eastlake’s lead to 32-26 on a Jahdai Alcombrack basket early in the third quarter but couldn’t cut the deficit any closer for the remainder of the game. Eastlake outscored Newport 30-17 in the third quarter to put the game away. Wolves’ sophomore Keeli Burton, who scored a team-high 16 points, said her squad got better as the game progressed. The Wolves led the Knights 30-21 at halftime before completely dominating the third quarter.
“Our whole team’s energy was just crazy. As the game went on we built on that,” Burton said.
Eastlake senior point guard Gina Marxen scored 12 points and Mae Bryant added 10 points as well in the win.
“We are playing really well right now. We’ve had three games this week and we have three games next week,” Marxen said.
The Wolves have benefitted greatly from the addition of junior forward Mae Bryant to the lineup this season. Bryant consistently got to the basket with ease against Newport’s interior defense.
“Mae is a tall post (player) that we can rely on. She is so athletic and so strong. It just gives us another weapon,” Marxen said of Bryant.
Eastlake head coach Sara Goldie is pleased her squad is thriving early in the season. The Wolves returned all but one player from last year’s team to the varsity roster for the 2017-18 season.
“We had the expectation to be gelling but we didn’t necessarily expect it to be here this quick,” Goldie said. “We’re definitely happy with it and think its all about that level of effort that we bring. Every team in KingCo (Conference) is a good team and on any given night anybody can win. We know that we have to be on our game.”
The Wolves consistently make the extra pass and play as a cohesive unit on the floor.
“We share the ball. The last couple of games we’ve had four or five kids scoring in double digits,” Goldie said. “We just feel like we play that way its hard for any opponent to focus on one player. It works out for us.”
Newport head coach Travis Whitaker knew Eastlake would be a formidable opponent for his squad.
“We just need to be more consistent. A team like Eastlake is going to press you,” Whitaker said. “I thought we didn’t handle it the best. We scrapped and we stayed in the game for awhile. Coming out of halftime we were playing pretty well. We cut it to five or six and needed to get some stops. They put on a run on us quickly and I felt like the wind came out of our sails a little bit. It got away from us.”
Despite the loss against a powerhouse Eastlake team, Whitaker believes his team will be just fine.
“I love my team. That was a great test against a really good team. It’s going to be as good of a test as we’re going to see in this league (KingCo). I told the girls before the game that we needed to learn things tonight and I feel we did do that,” Whitaker said.
Newport’s Nicole Chan scored a game-high 21 points in the loss. Chan hit six three-pointers. Newport guard Anateya Sommerville scored eight points as well.