The Issaquah girls basketball team earned a hard-fought 58-53 road victory over the Newport Knights on Jan. 3.
Head coach Doug Crandall said winning such a close game is a good learning experience for his team.
“We’ve played multiple sorts of games so far this season,” Crandall said. “Games where we’ve gone ahead and lost a lead, been close and pulled away, we kind of got smacked over in Moses Lake, blowing somebody out and now this was one that was tight the whole game. Gritting through it and getting it done was a good experience for us.”
The two teams traded baskets early in the first quarter, but an 11-2 run late in the quarter gave the Eagles a 19-14 advantage over the Knights. Alivia Stephens and Keira Hanson led the way in the opening frame for Issaquah, combining for 17 of the Eagles’ 19 points.
After an evenly matched second quarter, the Eagles took a 33-27 advantage into halftime. Issaquah got its largest lead of the game when senior guard Lauren Frueh converted a three-point play to make it a 36-27 game early in the third quarter. The Knights responded, going on a 12-4 run to cut the Eagles’ lead to one going into the fourth quarter.
Crandall said he wanted his team to calm down as it went into the fourth quarter.
“I think we’re putting a lot of pressure and expectations on ourselves and it was a tense game on the road,” Crandall said. “Honestly, it was just a basketball game, just control what you can control and do your best. The more games you play like this, the more it becomes natural.”
In the fourth quarter, Frueh made an important 3-pointer to extend the Eagles’ lead to 56-48 with less than three minutes left. Newport senior guard Eva Richards cut the Issaquah lead to 56-53 with 10 seconds left, but Frueh made two free throws to secure the 58-53 win for the Eagles.
“You have to hit free throws and Frueh did a great job of knocking two down there at the end,” Crandall said. “You try to get the ball to the girls who you know are good free throw shooters and she made them.”
The win got the Eagles back into the win column after losing two games in Moses Lake over the holidays. The Eagles lost their first game of the trip, 65-45, to Moses Lake on Dec. 27, followed by a narrow 55-50 loss to Sunnyside on Dec. 28.
“We had a tough trip to eastern Washington,” Crandall said. “We told them that we chose to play some tough teams on the road, back-to-back, and we learned a lot over there. It was good to get a win.”
The Eagles followed up their victory over Newport by defeating the Skyline Spartans, 56-21, on Jan. 4.